Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Locomotion; Orthopedic Equipment


Purpose: EZ-StepsTM is a device that fits into an existing stairwell which decreases the height, or rise, of each step by half. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a difference in lower extremity muscle activity and knee joint range of motion (ROM) during stair climbing with and without the use of EZ-StepsTM in an elderly population.

Methods: Eight healthy, elderly (aged 65-89 years) male and female subjects volunteered for the study. Surface electromyography (sEMG) was used to assess muscle activity in four lower extremity muscles during stair climbing standard steps and steps installed with EZ-StepsTM. The four muscles assessed were the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, rectus femoris, and the medial head of the gastrocnemius. An electrogoniometer was used to measure knee joint ROM and foot-switches were used to detect foot placement on the step. The EMG, electrogoniometric-and foot-switch data were telemetried to a Noraxon Telemy08 receiver and digitized by a NET 486DX computer. The data was then stored in the computer using the Myosoft data collection software that accompanies the system. Analysis of the data was performed using the Norquest software that is included with the system. To normalize the data, the EMG information for each of the four muscles was expressed as a percentage of that muscle's maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Descriptive statistics were used to compare muscle activity between negotiation of standard and EZ-StepsTM, and knee joint ROM between the two stair types.

Results: The results showed that there was less lower extremity muscle activity and less knee joint ROM during stair ascension and descension with the EZ-StepsTM installed.

Conclusions: EZ-StepsTM may be beneficial for elderly individuals who have difficulty with stair climbing activities.