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Effect of muscle strength and balance on falls has not been well researched in healthy older women. The purpose of this study was to compare lower extremity strength and balance in older healthy women during each decade of life and to investigate which factors are different in women with a history of falling.
We retrospectively studied 240 women age 50-89 y. Measures of muscle strength, postural stability, and incidence of falls over the past year were obtained from client charts at Texas Woman’s University’s Health Promotion & Research Center from 1996 to 2002.
Strength declined significantly with age in all muscle groups except knee extensors. Age, hip flexor and abductor strength, and postural stability were significantly different in women who had fallen.
Strength decline was not consistent across muscle groups. Women who were older, had less hip flexor or abductor strength, or less balance were more likely to have fallen.
Trudelle-Jackson is with the School of Physical Therapy, Texas Woman’s University, Dallas, TX 75077. Jackson and Morrow are with the Dept of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, University of North Texas, Denton TX 76203-0769.