Testing the efficacy of motor analogies for landing safely from falls
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15388
Fall-related injuries are a major concern in countries with an aging population. One approach for reducing the likelihood of fall injuries is to teach older adults how to land safely. However, different safe landing techniques are required for different types of fall and direction of fall. Additionally, after a fall is initiated there is insufficient time to choose and use an appropriate safe-landing technique—particularly for older adults, who frequently display age-related cognitive deficiencies. Literature suggests that motor analogies are easy to retrieve from memory, can rapidly deploy attention during movement, and may even speed up the motor learning process. This thesis explores whether motor analogies can be utilized as a rule-of-thumb to promote safer landing (i.e., reduced risk of injury). Two laboratory experiments were conducted to examine the effect of motor analogies on biomechanical factors associated with landing by young adults (Chapters 2 and 4). A series of three online experiments examined whether motor analogies invoke mental representations associated with characteristics of safe landing (Chapter 3). Finally, a clinically-registered randomised controlled protocol was designed to investigate motor analogies in older adults (Chapter 5) (due to Covid-19 restrictions, the trial has not yet been completed). The findings suggest that an appropriate motor analogy can invoke mental representations associated with safe landing, and that participants instructed to use a motor analogy land in ways that are likely to result in less severity of injury, regardless of the direction in which they fall. The research provides preliminary evidence for the potential of motor analogies to reduce fall-related injuries, paving the way for future clinical studies.
The University of Waikato
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