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BMC Geriatr. 2010 Sep 20;10:68. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-10-68.

Use of an innovative model to evaluate mobility in seniors with lower-limb amputations of vascular origin: a pilot study.

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Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Institut de réadaptation en déficience physique de Québec, 525 Wilfrid-Hamel Blvd East, Québec (Québec), Canada.



The mobility of older individuals has often been only partially assessed, without considering all important aspects such as potential (available) versus effective (used) mobilities and the physical and psychosocial factors that modulate them. This study proposes a new model for evaluating mobility that considers all important aspects, applied here to lower-limb amputees with vascular origin. This model integrates the concepts of potential mobility (e.g. balance, speed of movement), effective mobility (e.g. life habits, movements in living areas) and factors that modulate these two types of mobility (e.g. strength, sensitivity, social support, depression). The main objective was to characterize potential and effective mobility as well as mobility modulators in a small sample of people with lower-limb amputations of vascular origin with different characteristics. The second objective of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility of measuring all variables in the model in a residential context.


An observational and transversal design was used with a heterogeneous sample of 10 participants with a lower-limb amputation of vascular origin, aged 51 to 83, assessed between eight and 18 months after discharge from an acute care hospital. A questionnaire of participant characteristics and 16 reliable and valid measurements were used.


The results show that the potential mobility indicators do not accurately predict effective mobility, i.e., participants who perform well on traditional measures done in the laboratory or clinic are not always those who perform well in the real world. The model generated 4 different profiles (categories) of participants ranging from reduced to excellent potential mobility and low to excellent effective mobility, and characterized the modulating factors. The evaluations were acceptable in terms of the time taken (three hours) and the overall measurements, with a few exceptions, which were modified to optimize the data collected and the classification of the participants. For the population assessed, the results showed that some of the negative modulators (particularly living alone, no rehabilitation, pain, limited social support, poor muscle strength) played an important role in reducing effective mobility.


The first use of the model revealed interesting data that add to our understanding of important aspects linked to potential and effective mobility as well as modulators. The feasibility of measuring all variables in the model in a residential context was demonstrated. A study with a large number of participants is now warranted to rigorously characterize mobility levels of lower-limb amputees with vascular origin.

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