Most falls occur during motor tasks , and footwear has been identified as an environmental risk factor for both indoor and outdoor falls suffered by older people [2, 3]. By altering somatosensory feedback to the foot and ankle and modifying frictional conditions at the shoe-sole/floor interface, footwear influences postural stability and the subsequent risk of slips, trips and falls. Despite the number of studies that have addressed the effects of footwear on balance [4, 5], little is known about what constitutes safe footwear for older people when undertaking activities in and around the home . Because footwear appears to be an easily modifiable falls risk factor, it is imperative to identify the specific shoe features that might facilitate or impair balance in older people so as to design targeted falls prevention interventions and provide evidence-based recommendations.
The research aims to systematically investigate how various features of shoes relative to heel height, sole hardness, heel collar height and slip-resistance affect balance in older people.
75 healthy community-dwelling older people aged over 70 and 25 healthy young subjects.
An initial study systematically examines the effects of shoe features on performance in clinical tests of balance. Subsequent studies investigate the effects of shoe features on balance and gait when walking over level, irregular and wet surfaces and during some balance-challenging motor tasks. Motion analysis, force platforms and accelerometry are used to determine gait variables, kinematics and kinetics.