Rate of Force Development as a Predictor of Mobility in Community-dwelling Older Adults


Exercise Science and Sport Management

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Rate of force development (RFD) is influential, and possibly more influential than other muscular performance parameters, for mobility in older adults. However, only a few studies have investigated this matter, and this has not been examined for the plantar flexors (PFs). The purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of PF RFD and other common tests of muscular performance to Up-and-Go (UG) performance and walking speed (WS) in older adults. METHODS: Twenty-six (19 females) healthy, community-dwelling older adults (73.7 ± 4.9 years) were recruited from a senior citizen center for this observational study. Handgrip strength, UG performance, as well as preferred and maximal WS were obtained. Time taken to complete 5-chair rises and the number of chair rises completed in 30 seconds were recorded. Rate of force development of the PFs was obtained during a rapid, bilateral calf raise performed on a force plate. Hierarchical multiple linear regression was used to identify significant predictors, after adjusting for physical activity level and body mass index, of mobility (ie, UG, preferred and maximal WS). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: No muscular performance variables correlated with preferred WS. Rate of force development (adjusted R2 = 0.356; P = .008) and handgrip strength (adjusted R2 = 0.293; P = .026) were the only predictors of maximal WS and accounted for a 21.7% and 16.1% change in R2, respectively, after accounting for physical activity level and body mass index. Rate of force development was the only predictor of UG performance (adjusted R2 = 0.212; P = .006) and accounted for a 29.2% change in R2 after adjustment variables were applied. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to common assessments of muscular performance, such as handgrip strength and chair rise performance, PF RFD was a greater predictor of mobility in older adults. These findings, in conjunction with recent reports, indicate that the assessment of RFD likely complements strength testing, thereby enabling a more robust assessment of functional decline in older adults.

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Journal of geriatric physical therapy (2001)





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