Kinematic strategies for obstacle-crossing in older adults with mild cognitive impairment

Shiuan Huei Lu, Yi Chun Kuan, Kuan Wen Wu, Hsuan Yu Lu, Yu Lin Tsai, Hsiang Ho Chen, Tung Wu Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is considered a transitional stage between soundness of mind and dementia, often involving problems with memory, which may lead to abnormal postural control and altered end-point control when dealing with neuromechanical challenges during obstacle-crossing. The study aimed to identify the end-point control and angular kinematics of the pelvis-leg apparatus while crossing obstacles for both leading and trailing limbs. Methods: 12 patients with MCI (age: 66.7 ± 4.2 y/o; height: 161.3 ± 7.3 cm; mass: 62.0 ± 13.6 kg) and 12 healthy adults (age: 67.7 ± 2.9 y/o; height: 159.3 ± 6.1 cm; mass: 61.2 ± 12.0 kg) each walked and crossed obstacles of three different heights (10, 20, and 30% of leg length). Angular motions of the pelvis and lower limbs and toe-obstacle clearances during leading- and trailing-limb crossings were calculated. Two-way analyses of variance were used to study between-subject (group) and within-subject (obstacle height) effects on the variables. Whenever a height effect was found, a polynomial test was used to determine the trend. A significance level of α = 0.05 was set for all tests. Results: Patients with MCI significantly increased pelvic anterior tilt, hip abduction, and knee adduction in the swing limb during leading-limb crossing when compared to controls (p < 0.05). During trailing-limb crossing, the MCI group showed significantly decreased pelvic posterior tilt, as well as ankle dorsiflexion in the trailing swing limb (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Patients with MCI adopt altered kinematic strategies for successful obstacle-crossing. The patients were able to maintain normal leading and trailing toe-obstacle clearances for all tested obstacle heights with a specific kinematic strategy, namely increased pelvic anterior tilt, swing hip abduction, and knee adduction during leading-limb crossing, and decreased pelvic posterior tilt and swing ankle dorsiflexion during trailing-limb crossing. The current results suggest that regular monitoring of obstacle-crossing kinematics for reduced toe-obstacle clearance or any signs of changes in crossing strategy may be helpful for early detection of compromised obstacle-crossing ability in patients with single-domain amnestic MCI. Further studies using a motor/cognitive dual-task approach on the kinematic strategies adopted by multiple-domain MCI will be needed for a complete picture of the functional adaptations in such a patient group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number950411
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Dec 13 2022


  • balance control strategies
  • fall risk
  • kinematics strategies
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • obstacle-crossing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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