Logo for the Journal of Rehab R and D

Volume 45 Number 8, 2008
   Pages 1167 — 1182

Abstract - Optimizing footwear for older people at risk of falls

Jasmine C. Menant, PhD;1* Julie R. Steele, PhD;2 Hylton B. Menz, PhD;3 Bridget J. Munro, PhD;2 Stephen R. Lord, PhD, DSc1

1Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute and School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia; 2Biomechanics Research Laboratory, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia; 3Musculoskeletal Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

Abstract — Footwear influences balance and the subsequent risk of slips, trips, and falls by altering somatosensory feedback to the foot and ankle and modifying frictional conditions at the shoe/floor interface. Walking indoors barefoot or in socks and walking indoors or outdoors in high-heel shoes have been shown to increase the risk of falls in older people. Other footwear characteristics such as heel collar height, sole hardness, and tread and heel geometry also influence measures of balance and gait. Because many older people wear suboptimal shoes, maximizing safe shoe use may offer an effective fall prevention strategy. Based on findings of a systematic literature review, older people should wear shoes with low heels and firm slip-resistant soles both inside and outside the home. Future research should investigate the potential benefits of tread sole shoes for preventing slips and whether shoes with high collars or flared soles can enhance balance when challenging tasks are undertaken.

Key words: accidental falls, aged people, balance, biomechanics, footwear, gait, heel height, insoles, rehabilitation, slips, trips.

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