Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Characterisation of Lower Limb Loading During Sports Movements in Active Older Adults Using a ‘Super Force Plate’ Facility

Dr. Sharon Dixon | University of Exeter; Professor James Brownjohn | University of Exeter
Competition Sponsor:
UK Research & Innovation
Awardee Year: 2020

There is well documented evidence to show the benefits of staying active into older age on health, wellness and maintaining independence.  However little is known about the movement patterns and joint loading experienced by this population during sport-specific activity.  This knowledge is required to create specific support to help people to stay active for longer.  This project will involve the customisation of a new state-of-the-art research facility, comprising 3.6-m square force-sensitive floor, cameras to monitor movement throughout the entire area and ability for virtual reality (, to recreate sports settings.  Detailed information will be collected on the movement patterns of active older adults when performing sports tasks such as running, turning and stopping.  The project will assess the feasibility of accurately reproducing complete sports movements, by comparing data collected in the new facility for active older adults with data collected for similar movements performed in sport settings.

A target application identified for this new facility and method will be the development of footwear specifically designed for older adults participating in sport and exercise, working in collaboration with project partner Cosyfeet (Somerset, UK).  By providing new knowledge of the movement strategies of older adults performing sports tasks, results of this project will help us to understand the amount of joint loading, the level of cushioning and the amount of shoe-surface grip suitable for this population.  The provision of a facility for the detailed investigation of sport-specific tasks for the active older population will transform the field of healthy ageing by ultimately allowing the provision of recommendations for safe and comfortable conditions to facilitate continued activity for this growing population, enhancing health and wellbeing and improving quality of life and longevity.

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