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Abstract

It has been suggested that walking speed is the sixth vital sign. To adequately assess the status of walking speed of patients, normative data or percentile ranks are required. The purpose of this study was to develop percentile ranks for walking speed using a meta-analytic approach for independent, community-dwelling males and females between 70 and 79 years of age. Using PubMed and CINAHL, articles were included in the analysis if: 1) subjects were between 70 and 79 years of age; 2) “walking speed” was described as “comfortable,” “preferred,” “usual,” “normal,” or “self-selected”; 3) subjects were classified as independent and community-dwelling; 4) data were provided separately for males and female; 5) means, standard deviations (SD) and sample size were presented or easily discerned; and 6) the English language was used. Two systematic reviews (Bohannon and Andrews, Rydwik et al) were also used to help identify relevant studies. Articles were not included if the sampling methods or testing protocol were not well described by the authors. Principal author, country of study, and timing method, mean walking speed, SD, and number of subjects were obtained for each article. Weighted means, pooled SD, and percentile ranks from 5 to 95 were calculated. Samples of 6359 males from 22 studies representing 10 countries and 12064 females from 34 studies representing 12 countries were used for analysis. Minimal Detectable Changes (MDC) were also calculated for 95% and 90% confidence levels. The weighted mean walking speed was 116.72 cm/sec (pooled SD + 18.77) for males and 105.49 cm/sec (pooled SD + 21.20) for females. Percentile ranks from 5 to 95 were calculated for males and females. For females, the MDC95 was 10.18 cm/sec, while the MDC90 was 8.57 cm/sec. For males, the MDC95 was 9.01 cm/sec, while the MDC90 was 7.59 cm/sec. Percentile ranks are easy to explain and easy to understand, and may be used as adjunctive information during routine healthcare visits.

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