Publication Date



Background: Real-world environments comprise surfaces of different textures, densities and gradients, which can threaten postural stability and increase falls risk. However, there has been limited research that has examined how walking on compliant surfaces influences gait and postural stability in older people and PD patients.

Methods: PD patients (n = 49) and age-matched controls (n = 32) were assessed using three-dimensional motion analysis during self-paced walking on both firm and foam walkways. Falls were recorded prospectively over 12 months using daily falls calendars.

Results: Walking on a foam surface influenced the temporospatial characteristics for all groups, but PD fallers adopted very different joint kinematics compared with controls. PD fallers also demonstrated reduced toe clearance and had increased mediolateral head motion (relative to walking velocity) compared with control participants.

Conclusions: Postural control deficits in PD fallers may impair their capacity to attenuate surface-related perturbations and control head motion. The risk of falling for PD patients may be increased on less stable surfaces.

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access


Authors' accepted manuscript.

© 2011 Elsevier Ltd. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license