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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2002 Mar;50(3):468-73.

The relationship between lower body strength and obstructed gait in community-dwelling older adults.

Author information

1
School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Borwood Highway, P.O. Box 81, Burwood 3125, Melbourne, Australia. ecocelle@ozemail.com.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the relationship between lower body strength of community-dwelling older adults and the time to negotiate obstructed gait tasks.

DESIGN:

A correlational study.

SETTING:

The Biomechanics Laboratory, Deakin University, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS:

Twenty-nine women and 16 men aged 62 to 88 were recruited using advertisements placed in local newspapers. The participants were independent community dwellers, healthy and functionally mobile.

MEASUREMENTS:

Maximal isometric strength of the knee extensors and dynamic strength of the hip extensors, hip flexors, hip adductors, hip abductors, knee extensors, knee flexors, and ankle plantar flexors were assessed. The times to negotiate four obstructed gait tasks at three progressively challenging levels on an obstacle course and to complete the course were recorded. The relationship between strength and the crossing times was explored using linear regression models.

RESULTS:

Significant associations between the seven strength measures and the times to negotiate each gait task and to walk the entire course at each level were obtained (r = -0.38 to -0.55; P < .05). In addition, the percentage of the variance explained by strength (R(2)), consistently increased as a function of the progressively challenging level. This increase was particularly marked for the stepping over task (R(2) = 19.3%, 25.0%, and 27.2%, for levels 1, 2, and 3, respectively) and the raised surface condition (R2 = 17.1%, 21.1%, and 30.8%, for levels 1, 2, and 3, respectively).

CONCLUSION:

The findings of the study showed that strength is a critical requirement for obstructed locomotion. That the magnitude of the association increased as a function of the challenging levels suggests that intervention programs aimed at improving strength would potentially be effective in helping community-dwelling older adults negotiate environmental gait challenges.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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