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Taking A Look At Gait Speed & Whether It Can Predict A Decline In Health Function

I was recently reading the article titled “Physical performance measures in the clinical settings” which was published in the American Geriatrics Society journal in 2003 and thought I would highlight some of the key take home messages due to its relevance of working as a health care practitioner. Sometimes as health care practitioners (osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors, exercise physiologists, myotherapists and personal trainers) we are focused more so on the musculoskeletal side of health rather than sometimes taking a step back and looking at ones overall health and wellbeing.

The objective of this article was to assess the ability of gait speed alone and a three-item lower extremity performance battery to predict 12 month rates of hospitalization, decline in health, and a decline in function in primary care settings serving older adults.  This study involved 487 participants ages 65 and older.

The study incorporated the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly (EPESE) lower extremity performance battery which included gait speed, chair rise capacity and balance skills.

Gait speed for the separate gait speed variable was completed over 4 meters with a 1 meter start up before starting timing.

The article discussion reported that performance measures have the potential to be incorporated into clinical practice as convenient global markers or “vital signs” for health related risk in older adults.   Physical function measures appear to integrate a number of different facets of health and ageing and include disease processes, nutritional status, fitness and emotional state.

The article suggests that physical performance data may be used clinically as a vital sign or screening test.  It is noted that there must be a differential diagnosis component attached to identify the causes of poor performance and interventions to change the outcomes must be available.

What Does This Mean?

As health care practitioners in private practice who deal mostly with musculoskeletal complaints, we could incorporate these tests as a screen and where one does not perform well, we can refer off to their general practitioner to assess further and identify possible underlying causes that may not be musculoskeletal in origin.

For those of you who would like to read this article in full, please go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12588574.

This blog post was written by Osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.

Principle Four Osteopathy

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced osteopaths working across both of the clinics.

The Melbourne City CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

The Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

To speak to an Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.