Biomechanical analyses of stair-climbing while dual-tasking

Srikant Vallabhajosula, Chi Wei Tan, Mukul Mukherjee, Austin J. Davidson, Nicholas Stergiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Stair-climbing while doing a concurrent task like talking or holding an object is a common activity of daily living which poses high risk for falls. While biomechanical analyses of overground walking during dual-tasking have been studied extensively, little is known on the biomechanics of stair-climbing while dual-tasking. We sought to determine the impact of performing a concurrent cognitive or motor task during stair-climbing. We hypothesized that a concurrent cognitive task will have a greater impact on stair climbing performance compared to a concurrent motor task and that this impact will be greater on a higher-level step. Ten healthy young adults performed 10 trials of stair-climbing each under four conditions: stair ascending only, stair ascending and performing subtraction of serial sevens from a three-digit number, stair ascending and carrying an empty opaque box and stair ascending, performing subtraction of serial sevens from a random three-digit number and carrying an empty opaque box. Kinematics (lower extremity joint angles and minimum toe clearance) and kinetics (ground reaction forces and joint moments and powers) data were collected. We found that a concurrent cognitive task impacted kinetics but not kinematics of stair-climbing. The effect of dual-tasking during stair ascent also seemed to vary based on the different phases of stair ascent stance and seem to have greater impact as one climbs higher. Overall, the results of the current study suggest that the association between the executive functioning and motor task (like gait) becomes stronger as the level of complexity of the motor task increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-929
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 13 2015


  • Counting backwards
  • Multi-tasking
  • Stair ascension
  • Stair negotiation
  • Stepping
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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