Feasibility of repeated self-measurements of maximum step length and gait speed by community-dwelling older persons.

BMJ open

PubMedID: 27496235

Bongers KT, Schoon Y, Olde Rikkert MG. Feasibility of repeated self-measurements of maximum step length and gait speed by community-dwelling older persons. BMJ Open. 2016;6(8):e011538.
OBJECTIVES
Self-management of mobility and fall risk can be important in fall prevention; however, it remains unstudied. Therefore, the current study assessed whether community-dwelling older persons were able to repeatedly self-assess maximum step length (MSL) and gait speed (GS) in their own home for a 6-month period, how these tests changed during this period and if these changes were related to falling.

DESIGN
This is a prospective study.

SETTING
This study was conducted at home.

PARTICIPANTS
A total of 56 community-dwelling older adults (24 women (43%), mean age 76.2 (SD 3.9) years) entered the study; of which, 45 completed the study.

METHODS
Participants performed MSL and GS once a week in their own home during a 6-month period.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES
Repeated MSL and GS measurements were the primary outcomes. Falls, self-management and mobility were the secondary outcomes.

RESULTS
Self-assessment of MSL and GS by older persons is feasible. Compliance of repeatedly self-measuring MSL and GS was good; the median number of weekly measurements was 23.0 (88%) and 21.0 (81%) for MSL and GS, respectively. Drop-outs showed less self-management abilities compared to the participants who completed the study (p=0.049). Linear mixed models showed a small significant improvement in MSL and GS over time (p<0.001), without an influence on falling.

CONCLUSIONS
Most community-dwelling older persons are able and willing to repeatedly assess their MSL and GS. Self-managing mobility and fall risk did not increase fall occurrence. The fact that older persons can be actively involved in their own healthcare is clinically relevant. Further studies are needed to examine the (cost-)effectiveness of self-management in fall prevention interventions.