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Jessica C. Dobek, Karen N. White and Katherine B. Gunter

The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which a novel training program based on activities of daily living (ADL) would affect performance of ADLs, as well as the fitness of older adults. Fourteen individuals (mean age 82 years) took part in a 10-week control period followed by a 10-week ADL-based training program. Pre- and posttests included the Physical Performance Test (PPT), the Physical Functional Performance–10 (PFP-10), and the Senior Fitness Test (SFT). After the training period, improvements ranging from 7% to 33% (p < .05) were seen on the PPT and PFP-10 and on three items of the SFT. After conversion to standard scores, the magnitude of change in the PPT and the PFP-10 was significantly greater (p < .05) than the magnitude of change in the SFT. These data support the idea that this novel ADL-based training program was able to facilitate improved performance of ADLs, as well as select measures of fitness among older adults.

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Karen N. White, Katherine B. Gunter, Christine M. Snow and Wilson C. Hayes

The Quick Step measures reaction time and lateral stepping velocity. Upon a visual cue, participants step to the side as quickly as possible. Instrumentation includes floor pads with pressure-sensitive switches and two timers. In all, 109 older adults who had experienced a recent fall, 46 older adult nonfallers, and 24 young adults volunteered for testing. Reliability for reaction time and stepping velocity was good to excellent (intraclass correlation = 0.69–0.85). Multivariate analysis of variance revealed a significant difference between groups, p < 0.01, but not between stepping directions, p = 0.62–0.72, for both reaction time and stepping velocity. Reaction times were different among the three groups, p < 0.01, with the young adults having the fastest times and the older adult fallers having the slowest times. Lateral stepping velocity was faster among the young adults than for the two older groups, p < 0.01, but did not differ between the older adults, p = 0.29. It is concluded that the Quick Step is a simple and reliable tool for determining reaction time and lateral stepping velocity, and that this test can be used to detect a significant difference in reaction time between older adult fallers and nonfallers.

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Katherine B. Gunter, Jennifer De Costa, Karen N. White, Karen Hooker, Wilson C. Hayes and Christine M. Snow

This study assessed changes in balance self-efficacy (BSE) over 1 year in community-dwelling elderly, compared changes in BSE between fallers and nonfallers, and assessed the relationship between specific balance and mobility risk factors for side falls and BSE scores. Elderly fallers (n = 67; 80.2 ± 5.9 years) and nonfallers (n = 75; 79.4 ± 4.9), categorized based on self-reported falls over 1 year, were tested at baseline on postural sway, hip-abduction strength, lateral-stepping velocity, tandem walk, and get-up-and-go and given a BSE questionnaire. Fallers had lower BSE scores than nonfallers did (141.6 ± 33.5 and 154.9 ± 25.4; p = .008). BSE did not change over 1 year. In stepwise regression, BSE scores were predictive of time on the get-up-and-go, mediolateral sway, and tandem walk independent of age, height, and strength (p < .001). The BSE scale might be useful for screening individuals at risk for injurious falls because it is inexpensive and noninvasive.