A Step in the Right Direction

Injuries that result from falls in the elderly population and others with locomotor impairments are a major concern for millions of people. As people age, their stability and balance tend to decrease, increasing the variability in their walking patterns. They become less able to control their ability to effectively regulate movements. This leads to more falls, which contribute to more than 95% of hip fractures.

These facts suggest that there is a clear need to develop strategies that will improve lateral balance in the elderly. To do this, Dr. Dingwell’s research grant “Improving Lateral Stepping Control to Reduce Falls in the Elderly” aims to develop interventions that will help prevent these falls. This research will examine how humans control their stepping motions in response to changing tasks.

This project has the goal of reducing falls in high-risk elderly populations by:

  • Determining how the elderly respond to externally imposed challenges
  • Examining how the elderly make internal decisions that will protect them against potential risks
  • Determining if virtual reality-based interventions can improve walking balance. This test will compare participants navigation through a novel, realistic simulation, pre- and post-intervention.


Dr. Dingwell’s research will run for the next five years with expected funding of $1.937M. This project is being funded with an R01 grant by the National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).