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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 May;93(5):396-404. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000034.

What physical attributes underlie self-reported vs. observed ability to walk 400 m in later life? An analysis from the InCHIANTI Study.

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  • 1From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (MKB, JFB); College of Nursing Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School (SGL); Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle (KVP); Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (DKK); Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland (CLP); Geriatric Rehabilitation Unit, Azienda Sanitaria Firenze, Florence, Italy (SB); National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland (LF); and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Division of Gerontology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore (JG).

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aims of this study were to evaluate and contrast the physical attributes that are associated with self-reported vs. observed ability to walk 400 m among older adults.

DESIGN:

Analysis of baseline and 3-yr data from 1026 participants 65 yrs or older in the InCHIANTI (Invecchiare in Chianti) study was conducted. Observed and self-reported ability to walk 400 m at baseline and at 3 yrs were primary outcomes. Predictors included leg speed, leg strength, leg strength symmetry, range of motion, balance, and kyphosis.

RESULTS:

Balance, leg speed, leg strength, kyphosis, leg strength symmetry, and knee range of motion were associated with self-reported ability to walk 400 m at baseline (P < 0.001, c = 0.85). Balance, leg speed, and knee range of motion were associated with observed 400-m walk (P < 0.001, c = 0.85) at baseline. Prospectively, baseline leg speed and leg strength were predictive of both self-reported (P < 0.001, c = 0.79) and observed (P < 0.001, c = 0.72) ability to walk 400 m at 3 yrs.

CONCLUSIONS:

The profiles of attributes that are associated with self-reported vs. observed walking ability differ. The factor most consistently associated with current and future walking ability is leg speed. These results draw attention to important foci for rehabilitation.

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