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David M. Wert, Jessie M. VanSwearingen, Subashan Perera and Jennifer S. Brach

The purpose of this study was to assess the relative and absolute reliability of metabolic measures of energy expenditure and gait speed during overground walking in older adults with mobility limitations. Thirty-three (mean age [SD] = 76.4 [6.6] years; 66% female) older adults with slow gait participated. Measures of energy expenditure and gait speed were recorded during two 6-min bouts of overground walking (1 week apart) at a self-selected “usual” walking pace. The relative reliability for all variables was excellent: ICC = .81−.91. Mean differences for five of the six outcome variables was less than or equal to the respected SEM, while all six mean differences fell below the calculated MDC95. Clinicians and researchers can be confident that metabolic measures of energy expenditure and gait speed in older adults with slow walking speeds can be reliably assessed during overground walking, providing an alternative to traditional treadmill assessments.

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Andrea L. Hergenroeder, Bethany Barone Gibbs, Mary P. Kotlarczyk, Subashan Perera, Robert J. Kowalsky and Jennifer S. Brach

The aim of this study was to evaluate accuracy of seven commercial activity monitors in measuring steps in older adults with varying walking abilities and to assess monitor acceptability and usability. Forty-three participants (age = 87 ± 5.7 years) completed a gait speed assessment, two walking trials while wearing the activity monitors, and questionnaires about usability features and activity monitor preferences. The Accusplit AX2710 Accelerometer Pedometer had the highest accuracy (93.68% ± 13.95%), whereas the Fitbit Charge had the lowest (39.12% ± 40.3%). Device accuracy varied based on assistive device use, and none of the monitors were accurate at gait speeds <0.08 m/s. Barriers to monitor usability included inability to apply monitor and access the step display. Monitor accuracy was rated as the most important feature, and ability to interface with a smart device was the least important feature. This study identified the limitations of the current commercial activity monitors in both step counting accuracy and usability features for older adults.

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Edward M. Phillips, Jeffrey Katula, Michael E. Miller, Michael P. Walkup, Jennifer S. Brach, Abby C. King, W. Jack Rejeski, Tim Church and Roger A. Fielding

Objectives:

To examine baseline characteristics and change in gait speed and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) scores in participants medically suspended (MS) from a physical activity intervention (PA).

Design:

Randomized controlled trial.

Setting:

University and community centers.

Participants:

Sedentary older adults (N = 213) randomized to PA in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Pilot (LIFE-P).

Measurements:

MS was defined as missing 3 consecutive PA sessions in adoption and transition phases or 2 wk in maintenance phase because of a health event.

Results:

In all, 122 participants completed PA without MS (NMS subgroup), 48 participants underwent MS and resumed PA (SR subgroup), and 43 participants underwent MS and did not complete PA (SNR subgroup). At baseline, SNR walked slower (p = .03), took more prescribed medications (p = .02), and had lower SPPB scores than NMS and SR (p = .02). Changes from baseline to Month 12 SPPB scores were affected by suspension status, adjusted mean (SE) SPPB change: SNR 0.0957 (0.3184), SR 0.9413 (0.3063), NMS 1.0720 (0.1871); p = .03.

Conclusions:

MS participants unable to return to complete the PA in a trial of mobility-limited sedentary older adults had slower walking speeds, lower SPPB scores, and a higher number of prescribed medications at baseline. Change in SPPB scores at 12 months was related to suspension status.