As there is lack of understanding about the effect of transitioning between different flooring materials on the gait of older adults, this study investigated the effect of transitioning between a carpeted floor and a vinyl floor on the gait characteristics of older adults. Fourteen older (65 years old and over) and 14 younger (18 to 35 years old) adults walked on different transitional floors by measuring various gait parameters. While the older participants had greater toe clearance than their younger counterparts, the older participants had smaller toe clearance on a carpeted floor than on a vinyl floor, which would increase the probability of a trip-induced fall. Further, the study found the slower transitional acceleration of the whole body COM and the increased friction demand, especially during the toe-off phase, rather than heel contact phase, which will lead to a slip-induced fall on a vinyl floor shortly after transitioning from a carpeted floor to a vinyl floor. Although the increased likelihood of a slip or trip accident was found throughout the changes in gait parameters, the older participants did not perceive of slipping and tripping much. Therefore, older adults are recommended to be made aware of the danger of slipping and tripping while transitioning between different flooring materials.
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