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Effects of lower extremity muscle fatigue on the outcomes of slip-induced falls

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Slip-induced fall accidents continue to be a significant cause of fatal injuries and economic losses. Identifying the risk factors causing slip-induced falls is key to developing better preventive measures to reduce fall accidents. Although epidemiological studies suggest localised muscle fatigue may be one of the risk factors for slip-induced falls, there has been no documented biomechanical study examining the relationship between fatigue and fall accidents. As such, the overall objective of the current study was to investigate the effects of localised muscle fatigue of the quadriceps on the slip initiation and slip recovery phases of slip-induced falls. Sixteen healthy, young participants were recruited to walk across a vinyl floor surface in two different sessions (fatigue and no fatigue). Kinematic and kinetic data were collected using a 3-D motion analysis system and force plates during both sessions. Results suggest that localised muscle fatigue of the quadriceps affected various kinematic and kinetic gait variables that are linked with a higher risk of slip-induced falls. Additionally, the results indicated that localised muscle fatigue of the knee extensor muscle caused a delayed response in producing an effective joint moment and base of support using the trailing limb to recover from a fall. The findings from this study indicate that localised muscle fatigue is a potential risk factor causing slip-induced falls.
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Keywords: fall accidents; localised muscle fatigue; locomotion; slips and falls

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Locomotion Research Laboratory, School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA 2: Grado Department of Industrial and System Engineering, 0118, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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