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Community Ambulation in Older Adults: Which Internal Characteristics Are Important?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Susan Lord, Professor Lynn RochesterORCiD


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Lord SE, Weatherall M, Rochester L. Community ambulation in older adults: which internal characteristics are important? Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2010;91:378-83. Objective: To examine the internal characteristics of older adults independent in community ambulation to gain further understanding of the skills required for its successful execution. Design: Exploratory factor analysis. Setting: General community. Participants: Healthy, community dwelling older adults (N=113) who were cognitively intact and walked outdoors independently. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Spatiotemporal gait parameters derived from accelerometry over 6 minutes walking outdoors and a battery of measures for motor, cognitive, executive, and behavioral characteristics. Results: Mean participant age +/- SD was 75.8+/-7.3 years, with almost a third of the sample over 80 years. Four factors emerged from the Factor Analysis of 23 variables: motor control, self-efficacy, executive function, and cognitive-motor interference, which together explained 61.4% of common variance. Eight variables loaded onto motor control, accounting for 34.5% of common variance; 7 items loaded onto self-efficacy, which explained 12.4% of common variance; 5 variables loaded onto executive function, accounting for 8.4% of common variance; and 3 variables loaded onto cognitive-motor interference, explaining 6% of the variance. Conclusions: Results of this study indicate that factors beyond motor control contribute to independent community ambulation in older adults, reflecting the multidimensional, complex nature of the task. Self-efficacy was shown to be more relevant than executive function to gait performance, suggesting the need for a broader approach to assessment and intervention strategies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lord SE, Weatherall M, Rochester L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Year: 2010

Volume: 91

Issue: 3

Pages: 378-383

Print publication date: 16/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0003-9993

ISSN (electronic): 1532-821X

Publisher: WB Saunders Co.


DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.11.008


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University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
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