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Relationship between falls and physical performance measures among community-dwelling elderly women in Japan

Masaharu Morita, Noboru Takamura, Yosuke Kusano, Yasuyo Abe, Kazuhiko Moji, Tai-Ichiro Takemoto, Kiyoshi Aoyagi
Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2005, 17 (3): 211-6
16110734

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The relationship between falls and physical performance has focused on the frail elderly who have several health problems, particularly those in nursing homes or care facilities. It is important to clarify the relationship between falls and physical performance among the community-dwelling elderly.

METHODS: We examined the relationship between falls and physical performance measures (grip strength, chair stand time, functional reach, usual walking speed) among 402 community-dwelling Japanese elderly women aged 60 years and over.

RESULTS: Overall prevalence of falls was 21.1%, and increased with age. In univariate analysis, grip strength and functional reach were not significantly different between women who did and did not fall. Chair stand time of women who fell was longer than that of women who did not (p = 0.05), and the usual walking speed of women who fell was significantly slower than that of women who did not fall (p < 0.0001). Physical functioning significantly decreased with age; grip strength, functional reach and usual walking speed decreased, and chair stand time increased. Logistic regression analysis, adjusting for age and other covariates, showed that slower usual walking speed was significantly associated with falls, but grip strength and functional reach were not. Increased chair stand time had a borderline association (p = 0.1).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that poor lower extremity function, especially walking ability, is an important risk factor for falls in elderly Japanese community-dwelling women.

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