Physical-Performance Tests to Evaluate Mobility Disability in Community-Dwelling Elders

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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The purposes of this study were to evaluate community-dwelling elderly adults with different levels of perceived mobility with 5 physical-performance tests, determine the cutoff values of the 5 tests, and identify the best tests for classifying mobility status. The community-mobility statuses of 203 community-dwelling elders were classified as able, decreased, or disabled based on their self-reported ability to walk several blocks and climb stairs. They also performed the functional reach, timed 50-ft walk, timed 5-step, timed floor transfer, and 5-min-walk endurance tests. We found in all tests that the “able” outperformed the “decreased” and that the “decreased” outperformed the “disabled,” except on the floor-transfer task. The optimum cutoff values of the 5 performance tests were also reported. The 5-min walk and timed 5-step test could best separate the “able” from the “decreased,” whereas the 50-ft-walk-test could best differentiate the “decreased” from the “disabled.” The results suggest that community-mobility function of older adults can be captured by performance tests and that the cutoff values of the 5-min-walk, 5-step, and 50-ft-walk tests can be used in guiding intervention or prevention programs.

Wang and Olson are with the School of Physical Therapy, Texas Woman’s University, Houston, TX 77030. Protas is with the Dept. of Physical Therapy, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1144.