Purpose. To evaluate gait asymmetry during obstacle crossing by young and elderly adults performing normal and dual-task gait. Methods. Ten healthy young adults and ten elderly adults with mild cognitive impairment performed a gait protocol by stepping over a foam obstacle during normal gait and while performing a secondary task (Stroop task). Sagittal kinematics of the lead and trail limbs were analyzed. Statistical procedures involved analysis of variance and t tests at a significance of 0.05. Results. Many of the kinematic variables presented a main effect for group (young adults vs. elderly adults), where the elderly featured poorer gait performance. It was observed that gait velocity during obstacle crossing in normal and dual-task gait was similar between the preferred and non-preferred limbs in both the young and elderly. However, the elderly were slower during normal and dual-task gait. A main effect for the dual-task condition was observed. Kinematic asymmetries for obstacle crossing were more frequent in the elderly and especially during the dual-task condition. Conclusions. The results suggest that the elderly may require more compensatory adjustments after crossing an obstacle. The asymmetries observed among the elderly may contribute to higher risk of falling during perturbed gait.
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