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Geriatric joints – Reduced hip extension in the elderly

Biomechanical changes can be treated with stretching

Elderly patients take shorter steps than young adults and are far more likely to fall while walking. Until recently, however, the precise reason for this difference was unknown. Casey Kerrigan, MD, MS, Department Chair, Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Virginia Health System, and her colleagues recently performed a study where they looked at hundreds of parameters to compare the walking of both young and elderly adults. Of those parameters, a reduction in peak hip extension in the trailing limb was most consistent and significant in the elderly, suggesting that there is a contracture of the hip flexor that occurs with aging. The best treatment is stretching.

References and Resources
Lee LW, Zavarei K, Evans J, Lelas JJ, Riley PO, Kerrigan DC. Reduced hip extension in the elderly: dynamic or postural? Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Sep;86(9):1851-4.

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