Physical mobility limitations in adults with intellectual disabilities: a systematic review

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BackgroundMobility limitations increase with age in the general population. Despite a growing population of older adults with intellectual disabilities (ID), mobility is rarely studied in the ID literature. The specific aim of this study was to identify and summarise primary literature investigating mobility limitations in adults with ID.MethodsThis study was a systematic review of the epidemiological literature (incidence and prevalence) of mobility limitations among adults with ID. Four electronic databases were searched from January 1980 to May 2007 for publications according to predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria. Additional sources were consulted. Two reviewers extracted data from each of the included articles.ResultsThirty-two publications representing 31 studies were ultimately included. In general, studies did not focus on mobility but were conducted for other purposes. All studies were conducted in industrialised countries. Only one study used a longitudinal design; the remainders were cross-sectional. Few investigators reported on the representativeness of the sample or the validity of the measurement tool. Study samples differed substantially and investigators used numerous definitions of mobility limiting comparability between studies.ConclusionsThere is a need for increased research on mobility limitations among adults with ID, particularly longitudinal research. Researchers investigating mobility limitations should use validated measurement tools and offer detailed descriptions of the study sample and how it compares with an identifiable population.

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