Gait speed in older people: an easy test for detecting cognitive impairment, functional independence, and health state

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Abstract

Background:

With ageing, physical and cognitive functions become impaired. Analyzing and determining the association between both functions can facilitate the prevention and diagnosis of associated problems. Some previous works have proposed batteries of physical performance tests to determine both physical and cognitive functions. However, only a few studies have used the gait speed (GS) test as a tool to evaluate parameters representative of health in the elderly such as functionality, mobility, independence, autonomy, and comorbidity. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the association between physical and cognitive functions in older people (over 65 years old) and to detect the most appropriate physical test to assess cognitive impairment, functional independence, comorbidity, and perceived health in this population.

Methods:

One hundred six older adults (38 men, 68 women) participated voluntarily in this cross-sectional study. To assess the physical function handgrip strength, GS, 30-s chair stand tests, and body composition analysis were performed. To evaluate cognitive function, the Mini-Mental State Examination, Barthel index, and Charlson index were employed. No significant differences (P ≥ 0.05) between sexes were found.

Results:

Multiple regression analysis of the Mini-Mental State Examination and physical fitness variables, adjusted for age and sex, indicates that GS is a predictor of Mini-Mental State Examination score (R2 = 0.138).

Conclusion:

The results showed that GS is an important predictor of functional capacity (physical and cognitive function) in adults over 65 years old.

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