Commentary on “Thirty-Second Walk Test: Expansion of Normative Data”
This study augments previously reported reference values on the 30-second walk test (30sWT) for 5- to 13-year-old children developing typically and enhances the generalizability of results to a more ethnically and culturally diverse population. The need for minimal equipment, relative ease of administration and scoring, and excellent interrater reliability support the use of the 30sWT as a measure of functional ambulation in the school setting. Reference values may indicate how well a child is able to keep up with peers during daily school transitions. Studies assessing the validity of the 30sWT for children who require assistive devices for ambulation may allow the test to be used as a screening tool for functional mobility in school and may guide interventions to maximize the child's ability to keep up with classmates during transitions in this setting.
“What should I be mindful about when applying this information?”
Clinicians should strive to standardize procedures within individual schools, including use of a standard track length and configuration, inter- and intrarater reliability among raters in each school, and testing one student at a time to avoid distractions and possible “pacing” of one student by the other. Therapists should consider the effect of an examiner walking behind or alongside a student, as this may influence the student's walking speed. Because of the potential learning effect or motivation to walk faster on the second trial, as reported for this sample, the average of 3 trials may more accurately reflect a child's true score. Further assessment of anthropometric attributes, and environmental, behavioral, or attitudinal factors, may clarify the variables influencing test performance. The similarities between walking distances of children in this study and those reported previously suggest that the previously reported values for children aged 13 to 17 years may be used by clinicians until additional validation studies are performed.