Age- and gender-related test performance in community-dwelling elderly people: Six-Minute Walk Test, Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up & Go Test, and gait speeds

Teresa M Steffen, Timothy A Hacker, Louise Mollinger
Physical Therapy 2002, 82 (2): 128-37

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The interpretation of patient scores on clinical tests of physical mobility is limited by a lack of data describing the range of performance among people without disabilities. The purpose of this study was to provide data for 4 common clinical tests in a sample of community-dwelling older adults.

SUBJECTS: Ninety-six community-dwelling elderly people (61-89 years of age) with independent functioning performed 4 clinical tests.

METHODS: Data were collected on the Six-Minute Walk Test (6MW), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and Timed Up & Go Test (TUG) and during comfortable- and fast-speed walking (CGS and FGS). Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were used to determine the test-retest reliability for the 6MW, TUG, CGS, and FGS measurements. Data were analyzed by gender and age (60-69, 70-79, and 80-89 years) cohorts, similar to previous studies. Means, standard deviations, and 95% confidence intervals for each measurement were calculated for each cohort.

RESULTS: The 6MW, TUG, CGS, and FGS measurements showed high test-retest reliability (ICC [2,1]=.95-.97). Mean test scores showed a trend of age-related declines for the 6MW, BBS, TUG, CGS, and FGS for both male and female subjects.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Preliminary descriptive data suggest that physical therapists should use age-related data when interpreting patient data obtained for the 6MW, BBS, TUG, CGS and FGS. Further data on these clinical tests with larger sample sizes are needed to serve as a reference for patient comparisons.

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