Open Access Journal of Frailty Science (OAJFS)

Research Note

Relationship between Gait Speed and Balance Among Older Adults Residing in Long Term Care Settings

Authors: Soban MI, Patel S, Agnes, Kumar P and Girish N*

DOI: 10.23880/oajfs-16000107


Studies have documented that a decrease in gait speed is linked to an increased risk of falling among older adults residing in the community. However, there is a lack of research examining the correlation between gait speed and balance in older adults who reside in long-term care settings (LTCS). Objective: To determine the relationship between balance using a four-square step test (FSST) and gait speed using a 10-m walk test among older adults residing in LTCS in and around Udupi-Manipal. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among older adults residing in six LTCS. The residents above 60 years, either gender, able to follow commands, with functional vision and duration of stay > 6 months were included, and those who were bed or wheelchair-bound, use assistive devices for mobility, any acute cardiovascular events in the past 3 months, any orthopaedic or neurological conditions that affect mobility, and with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo were excluded. The participants were asked to perform the FSST and gait speed test. The demographic characteristics were summarized using descriptive statistics. Linear regression analysis was carried out keeping balance as the outcome variable and gait speed as the independent variable. Results: A total of ninety-four residents were screened, and thirty-five (n=35) were included in the study. The mean age of participants was 74.94 ± 7.54 years, with an average duration of stay in LTCS being 5.37 years. The participant's average gait speed was 0.994 ± 0.325 m/s, and the average time taken to complete the balance test was 12.75 ± 4.41 sec. The regression analysis revealed that for every second decline in gait speed, the dynamic balance assessed by the FSST reduced by 0.036 seconds (r2 =0.443; p = 0.008; 95% CI: -.062, -.010). Conclusion: This study showed that with an increase in gait speed, the time taken to complete the balance test decreased. This suggests older adults have better balance abilities when they can walk at a faster speed.

Keywords: Older Adults; Gait Speed; Falls; Long Term Care Setting

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