May 2016

Leg strength, velocity predict functional issues in older adults with poor mobility

In the moment: Rehabilitation

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Leg strength and speed of leg movement are predictive of functional decline in older adults with poor mobility, according to research from Boston, MA.

In 391 adults 65 years or older with self-reported mobility modifications, investigators from Harvard Medical School assessed variables related to leg strength, speed of leg movement, knee and ankle range of motion, and trunk stability. The researchers then followed the participants for two years, annually assessing mobility-related function using the Late Life Function and Disability Instrument.

Weaker leg strength, lower trunk extensor endurance, and slower leg velocity at baseline were associated with greater odds of persistently poor function and declines in function over the two-year follow-up.

The findings, which were epublished in April by the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, suggest that interventions targeting these variables—particularly trunk extensor endurance and leg velocity, which may be less familiar to clinicians than leg strength as predictors of mobility-related function—could help to optimize rehabilitation and disability prevention in this geriatric population.


Ward RE, Beauchamp MK, Latham NK, et al. Neuromuscular impairments contributing to persistently poor and declining lower-extremity mobility among older adults: New findings informing geriatric rehabilitation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2016 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]

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