Walking Speed Reserve As a Screen for Fall Risk and Co-Morbidities in Aging Athletes

Avery Allen, SPT, Allison Deering, SPT, and Jacob Munger, SPT

(Click on image to expand)

12 Comments on “Walking Speed Reserve As a Screen for Fall Risk and Co-Morbidities in Aging Athletes

  1. Great work! Do you have any thoughts on possible ways to increase walking speed reserve for individuals who are below this threshold that you picked up on while doing this research? Thanks!

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    • Great question, Abby! Throughout our research we were aiming to establish a screening tool to determine potential risk for decline in health. We weren’t necessarily assessing limitations or where individuals could improve, just whether or not they were a potential risk. Other tests would still need to be used in combination with this to determine specific limitations.

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    • Abby, thanks for the question. Even though we didn’t necessarily cover this in our research, I’ll try my best to answer. One thing as PT’s that we can and should do is advocate for our profession to help prevent falling further on the “slippery slope of aging”. As there could be many reasons why WSR may be impacted, an examination would give us the information we need to help target limitations and promote a more optimal lifestyle through specific interventions. If someone is lacking and is just curious, more movement and exercise can always be a good start!

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  2. Great job! Based on the individual WSR results, did the participants involved in power walking and other time-sensitive events demonstrate a higher WSR than those involved in sports with less emphasis on ambulation, such as archery, cycling or bowling?

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    • Hey great question! We did not analyze specific sports for this research and compare. We did consider this but we wanted to identify an overall cut-score first and then thought this would be interesting to break it down further to see what sports are meeting this criteria and maybe a sport consistently getting below the cut-score. Ideas for the future!

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  3. Great presentation guys! I really enjoyed reading about this topic, and I think your visual representation of your data demonstrates your results very well. I was wondering if you guys had any thoughts on why cancer and breathing problems were not associated with WSR results? Thanks!

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    • That is an interesting point that we have considered too! Cancer was not associated most likely due to the fact that most reported cancers on the history intake was skin cancer so performance was not affected. Breathing problems is a little more to consider but we considered that maybe because determining WSR is not rigorous enough of an endurance screen for the breathing problems documented by the patients to cause an affect.

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  4. Loved the poster presentation! I was curious to know if you saw a trend with gender when doing this study?

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    • Hello Luke, thank you for the question! Throughout our data analysis we determined that there was no statistical significance between demographics because gait speed is not dependent by gender as there are no normative values for males vs. females.

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  5. Great presentation! I think the visuals were very useful to further interpret the results! As we all know, athletes have a competitive edge so I was wondering if you guys felt like this possible competitive side may play into the increase in WSR of the aging athletes in comparison to community dwelling adults?

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    • Thanks for the questions Shanna! We did acknowledge this as a limitation actually because not only are athletes competitive and know they are being timed for this specific screen but they are also athletes that self-participate so they may be more driven to perform better on the screen in that sense too. However, we do know that aging athletes are performing better in general anyways as compared to the mostly sedentary lifestyle of other older adults and that gait speed is a reliable and valid measure. This is also a screen specific for aging athletes so if all are performing at a little higher level then this should even itself out in the results for future use.

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    • Thanks Shanna, I’m glad you enjoyed the poster. To build off of Ali’s response, it was noticeable that the aging athletes really tried to push themselves, even with their “normal” gait speed. Wording was a factor when instructing individuals to walk, we tried to use phrases such as “walking to your mailbox” to help but some still performed like they were at the Indy 500 due to their desire to do well and being more driven. As Ali said, in theory it should be able to even itself out if all are performing a bit better, but perhaps there can also be further standardization to decrease this limitation.

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