Effects of task-specific obstacle-induced trip-perturbation training: proactive and reactive adaptation to reduce fall-risk in community-dwelling older adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Yiru Wang
  • Shuaijie Wang
  • Ryan Bolton
  • Tanjeev Kaur
  • Tanvi Bhatt

External Institution(s)

  • University of Illinois at Chicago


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-905
Number of pages13
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatusPublished - May 1 2020


Background: Trips account for over half of outdoor falls among community-dwelling older adults. Aims: To investigate to what extent obstacle-induced trip-perturbation training could reduce fall-risk among older adults and to see whether training effects could be retained short term. Methods: Forty community-dwelling older adults were exposed to 24 repeated trip-perturbations given in a “blocked-and-mixed” manner during over-ground gait. Another trip was given 30 min post-training. For each trip, recovery strategies and outcomes (fall versus no fall) were analyzed. Within-trial changes to proactive and reactive dynamic center of mass stability, pre-trip toe clearance and trunk angle, trunk angle at recovery completion, and recovery step length were analyzed. Results: 48% of participants fell on their novel trip. The fall rate decreased significantly for subsequent trips, with no falls on the last trip. The decreased fall incidence resulted from improved feedforward and feedback adjustments for controlling center of mass stability and body kinematics. Proactive adaptations included reduced forward center of mass velocity, which lessened forward instability, and larger toe clearance, which increased the likelihood of obstacle avoidance. Reactive adjustments included reduced forward instability and improved trunk control (reduced forward rotation) at recovery step completion. Post-training, training effects were retained in terms of fall incidence, with slight decay in toe clearance and reactive stability. Conclusions: Older adults demonstrated appropriate locomotor-based proactive and reactive adaptations to repeated obstacle-induced trips with short-term retention similar to young adults, and thus could reduce their fall-risk through such training.

    Research areas

  • Adaptation, Fall prevention, Stability, Trip