The 30-ft walk test is a feasible and reliable method of measuring older adult gait patterns in community settings.
Purpose: To investigate the discriminative validity of the test as a function of age and gender in a group of community-dwelling older adults.
Methods: A total of 413 community-dwelling male and female adults (77.6 ± 6.5 years) performed the 30-ft walk test at a preferred and maximum speed in a single test session. Participants were divided into 5 age groups (65-69; 70-74; 75-79; 80-84; 85-89). The only stipulations for inclusion in the study were that participants were residing independently in the community, were relatively healthy, and able to perform both walking conditions without the use of an assistive device. Mean gait velocity (GV), stride length (SL), cadence (C), gait adaptation (GA), and gait stability ratio (GSR) measures were used to investigate the discriminative validity of the test.
Results: A 5 (Age) × 2 (Gender) MANOVA (SPSS, V16.0) produced significant multivariate effects for age and gender. No significant multivariate interactions were observed for either factor. Significant age associated changes were evident for the 85-89 age group when compared with the 65-69, 70-74, and 75-79 age groups for mean GV, SL, and GSR in both test conditions. Mean GV was also lower for the 80-84 age group when compared with the 65-69 and the 70-74 age groups in both test conditions. In contrast, differences between these same age groups were only evident for GSR in the preferred speed condition. Mean SL was lower for the 80-84 age group only when compared with the 65-69 age group in the preferred speed condition. For the variable of GA (i.e., the difference in mean gait velocity between the preferred and maximum speed condition), age-associated differences were only found when the 85-89 age group was compared with the 65-69 and 75-79 age groups, respectively. For the maximum speed condition, significant age associated differences were evident for mean SL and GSR when the 80-84 age group was compared with each of the 3 younger groups (i.e., Mean SL was lower and GSR higher in the older group). With respect to gender differences, men performed significantly better than women at all ages on all measures of gait except C in the maximum speed condition but not in the preferred speed condition.
Conclusions: The 30-ft walk test performed at preferred and maximum speed demonstrated good discriminative validity as a function of age and gender.