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Abstract

The authors investigated the lower limb movements for older adults walking at their preferred speed in shallow water to obtain information to help professionals prescribe exercises in a pool. The 8 participants presented a) similar hip and thigh motions in water and on land, although a reduced thigh velocity was observed in the water; b) increased knee flexion at the beginning of the walking cycle and reduced knee extension throughout the walking cycle in water; c) reduced ankle motion throughout the walking cycle and plantar flexion during the swing phase in water; d) reduced shank motion and velocity in water; and e) different intralimb coordination resulting from a different relative phase between the shank and thigh segments. These results support the use of the water as an alternative environment for gait training in older adults. Water resistance and buoyancy factors seem to be the major forces to overcome when older adults walk in shallow water, so the authors suggest paying special attention to the immersion level and movement velocity when prescribing aquatic exercises.

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