Gait characteristics in nondisabled community-residing nonagenarians

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Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation


OBJECTIVE: To determine gait performance in community-residing nonagenarians. DESIGN: Nested case-control study. SETTING: Community. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-one nondisabled nonagenarians (17 women) and 170 young-old controls (age range, 70-85y) participating in a longitudinal study. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Systematic clinical and quantitative gait assessments. We also examined the association of gait velocity with death over a 1-year period. RESULTS: Nonagenarian men had better performance on all quantitative gait parameters examined compared with women. Male sex (beta=.58; 95% confidence interval [CI], 9.95-38.89) and depressive symptoms (beta=-.34; 95% CI, -6.73 to -0.04) were independently associated with gait velocity in multivariate linear regression models. The 6 hypertensive nonagenarians on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors had faster gait velocity (median, 103.1cm/s) compared with the 8 hypertensive nonagenarians not on ACE inhibitors (median, 77.5cm/s; P=.029). Nonagenarians had worse quantitative gait parameters compared with the young-old controls, although the differences were less marked when subjects with clinically normal gaits in both groups were compared. Gait velocity did not predict survival over 1-year follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Gait characteristics in nondisabled community-residing nonagenarians are associated with male sex, depressive symptoms, and medications. The quantitative gait measures in this sample of nondisabled nonagenarians provide a yardstick to compare younger-age groups.

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