Reliability of gait parameters during treadmill walking in community-dwelling healthy seniors

Oliver Faude, Lars Donath, Ralf Roth, Livia Fricker, Lukas Zahner
Gait & Posture 2012, 36 (3): 444-8
The present study aimed at assessing the between- and within-day-variability of temporal and spatial gait characteristics during treadmill walking in community-dwelling seniors. In 20 active, healthy seniors (10 women, 10 men, age: 64.8 (SD 3.2) years, height: 1.70 (0.10) m, weight: 69.7 (10.9) kg, physical activity: 11 (6) h week(-1)) gait characteristics were assessed on three days in weekly intervals (between-day variability). Either on days two or three, testing was repeated 30 min after the initial trial (within-day variability). We determined routine spatio-temporal gait parameters as well as gait variability during 400 steps at a normal walking speed (5.0 (0.4) km h(-1)) on a one-dimensional ground reaction force measuring treadmill. No significant mean differences occurred in any parameter for between- and within-day comparisons. Between-day ICC were high (ICC≥0.86) for most parameters except for temporal (ICC=0.44) and spatial (ICC=0.22) gait variability. Coefficients of variation (CoV) were also high in the latter parameters (CoV=30.2-36.1%), whereas all other variables showed clearly lower values (CoV<7%). CoV were still lower between days 2 and 3 (CoV<5%). Compared to between-day comparisons, within-day variability was comparable in spatio-temporal gait parameters (CoV<5%, ICC≥0.97) and lower in gait variability parameters (CoV<18%, ICC≥0.72-0.74). In conclusion, most gait parameters were highly reliable during treadmill walking. Changes of less than 10% can be detected with sufficient confidence. Gait variability parameters were less reliable and, thus, should be carefully interpreted.

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