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Rejuvenation Res. 2014 Jun;17(3):276-84. doi: 10.1089/rej.2013.1491. Epub 2014 Jun 11.

Association between Short Physical Performance Battery and falls in older people: the Progetto Veneto Anziani Study.

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1 Department of Medicine-DIMED, Geriatrics Division, University of Padova , Padova, Italy .


It is known that weakness in the lower limbs is associated with recurrent falls in old people. Among the tests routinely used to assess lower extremity strength, the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) is one of those used most often, but its relationship with recurrent falls is poorly investigated. We aimed to determine if SPPB scores are related to recurrent falling in a sample of 2710 older-aged people, and to ascertain which test in the SPPB is most strongly associated with a higher rate of falls. In this cross-sectional study, we demonstrated that participants scoring 0-6 in the SPPB were more likely to be recurrent fallers than those scoring 10-12 (odds ratio [OR]=3.46, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.04-5.88 in women; OR=3.82, 95% CI 1.77- 8.52, in men). SPPB scores of 7-9 were only associated with women being more likely to be recurrent fallers (OR=2.03, 95% CI 1.28-3.22). When the SPPB items were analyzed separately, even a lower score in gait speed for women was significantly associated with the presence of recurrent falls (OR=2.11; 95% CI 1.04-4.30), whereas in men only a significant increase in the time taken to complete the five timed chair stands test was associated with a higher rate of falls (OR=2.75; 95% CI 1.21-6.23). In conclusion, our study demonstrated that SPPB scores ≤6 are associated with a higher fall rate in old people of both genders; in females, even an SPPB score between 7 and 9 identifies subjects at a higher likelihood of being recurrent fallers. Among the single items of the SPPB, the most strongly associated with falls were gait speed in women and the five timed chair stands test in men.

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