Gait Velocity is quantitatively assessed using a 20-foot instrumented walkway (GAITRite System ® (Clifton, NJ) with sensor pads. Participants will be assessed while walking on the gait mat at their everyday pace. The GAITRite system is widely used in clinical and research settings, and excellent inter-rater and test-retest reliability (kappa >0.9) has been reported in our studies. Additional gait measures, including gait initiation and center or mass/pressure levels, can be collected on our M2 mat (GAITRite System ® (Clifton, NJ) that affords the ability to record continuous walking and turns as participants walk in loops.
Balance is quantitatively assessed using a balance analysis system that is strapped around the participants’ waists. SwayStar™ is manufactured by BESTec-etp Freiburg GmbH (Breisgau Electronic Service Technologie) and its sensors offer a precise recording of angular deviations and angular velocities of the trunk, near the body’s center of mass, in a highly sensitive manner. Standardized stairway and balance areas are available for conducting additional mobility assessments including the short performance battery which included unipedal stance (an additional balance measure).
Treadmill training is widely used to improve gait. We have the ability to implement treadmill walking training protocols based on the recommendations of American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Heart Association (AHA) for older adults. In a recent pilot study, participants completed three training sessions per week over eight weeks (total 24 sessions). The training started with five minutes of warm-up walking at comfortable speed. Then, the speed was gradually increased to the level of workload at which participants felt ‘somewhat hard’ (13 on Borg scale8) for two 15 minutes sessions with one to two minute break in between (total 30 minutes) followed by five minutes of cool down. Pulse and blood pressure were assessed before and after each session to assure a safe range (<70% of predicted maximum heart rate).
Functional Near-Infared Spectrospy (fNIRs):
We have the ability to measure prefrontal cortical activation (oxygenation and deoxygentation, in older adult humans while they are in motion. The fNIRS sensor, developed in the Drexel Biomedical Engineering laboratory, consists of reusable flexible circuit board that is attached to the participant’s forehead. The sensor, consists of four LED light sources and 10 detectors, which cover the forehead using 16 voxels with a source-detector separation of 2.5 cm. The 16-channel sensor has a temporal resolution of 500 ms per scan with 2.5 cm source-detector separation allowing for approximately 1–1.25 cm penetration depth, which has been used to detect hemodynamic changes in response to cognitive challenges.
Multisensory integration (MSI) is not fully understood in aging, and its relation to cognitive and motor function has not been fully evaluated. Participants receive combinations of visual, somatosensory, and auditory stimuli as they perform simple reaction time and complex higher-order computerized tests.
Comprehensive clinical neurological and neuropsychological examinations are conducted for all of our federally-funded research projects.