Negotiating stairs with an inconsistent riser: Implications for stepping safety

Journal article


Francksen, NC, Ackermans, TMA, Holzer, D, Ebner, SA, Maganaris, CN, Hollands, MA, Karamanidis, K, Roys, M and O'Brien, TD (2020). Negotiating stairs with an inconsistent riser: Implications for stepping safety. Applied Ergonomics. 87, pp. 103131-103131.
AuthorsFrancksen, NC, Ackermans, TMA, Holzer, D, Ebner, SA, Maganaris, CN, Hollands, MA, Karamanidis, K, Roys, M and O'Brien, TD
Abstract

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Stairs are associated with falls, especially when step dimensions are inconsistent. However, the mechanisms by which inconsistencies cause this higher risk are mostly theoretical. In this experimental study we quantified the effect of inconsistent rise heights on biomechanical measurements of stepping safety from younger (n = 26) and older adults (n = 33). In ascent, both groups decreased foot clearance (~9 mm) over the inconsistently higher step (F(1,56) = 48.4, p < 0.001). In descent, they reduced foot contact length on the higher step by 3% (F(1,56) = 9.1, p < 0.01). Reduced clearance may result in a toe-catch potentially leading to a trip, while reduced foot contact lengths increase the risk of overstepping which may also lead to a fall. These effects occurred because participants did not alter their foot trajectories, indicating they either did not detect or were not able to adjust to the inconsistent rise, increasing the likelihood of a fall. Consistent stair construction is vital, and existing inconsistencies should be identified and safety interventions developed.

Keywords Variable dimensions; Step geometry; Fall risk
Year2020
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Journal citation87, pp. 103131-103131
PublisherElsevier BV
ISSN0003-6870
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2020.103131
Publication dates
Print01 Sep 2020
Online07 May 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Apr 2020
Deposited15 Jun 2020
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
File Access Level
Open
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