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Table of Contents
Vol. 50, No. 3, 2004
Issue release date: February 2004
Section title: Experimental Section
Gerontology 2004;50:135–141
(DOI:10.1159/000076771)

Physical Function and Health Status among Seniors with and without a Fear of Falling

Brouwer B. · Musselman K. · Culham E.
Motor Performance Laboratory, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont., Canada

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Experimental Section

Received: October 21, 2002
Accepted: June 13, 2003
Published online: April 28, 2004
Issue release date: February 2004

Number of Print Pages: 7
Number of Figures: 2
Number of Tables: 2

ISSN: 0304-324X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER

Abstract

Background: Fear of falling (FF) is pervasive among older people and is an independent risk factor for decreased mobility and loss of quality of life. Although it is a serious health concern, little is known about the severity of the physical and health-related deficits in high-functioning fearful seniors. Objective: This study examined the physical correlates of FF in community-dwelling seniors in relation to their non-fearful counterparts and also explored the relevance of recent fall history. Subjects: Twenty-five volunteers who stated that they had curtailed their activities due to a FF and who reported themselves to be healthy participated. Non-fearful, age- and gender-matched subjects were also recruited and served as a comparison group. Methods: This cross-sectional study had participants come to the laboratory on one occasion for about 1.5 h. Limits of balance stability, walking speed, and lower limb muscle strength were measured in random order. In addition, the SF-36, the Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scale and the Human Activity Profile questionnaires were completed to provide measures of heath status, FF and activity levels, respectively. Results: Subjects with a FF had lower ABC scores (69.8 ± 10.2) than controls (90.2 ± 7.9; p < 0.001), and although they reported activity curtailment, the groups presented similar activity profiles (p > 0.05). Balance ability was not compromised in seniors with a FF, although their walking speed was slower than that of control subjects (p < 0.004). Lower limb weakness was significant in the FF group, which also reported low physical health. Perceived physical health, activity and hip flexor torque in combination accounted for almost 62% of the variance in ABC scores. Secondary analysis of the data from the FF group revealed a tendency for those who had fallen in the past year to restrict their limits of stability compared to those who had not fallen; though generally the effect sizes were small to moderate. Conclusions: The marked deficits in strength and health status found among seniors living independently in the community, who are in good health, but report being fearful of falling underscores the seriousness of FF as a potential health risk factor in the well elderly.

© 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Experimental Section

Received: October 21, 2002
Accepted: June 13, 2003
Published online: April 28, 2004
Issue release date: February 2004

Number of Print Pages: 7
Number of Figures: 2
Number of Tables: 2

ISSN: 0304-324X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER


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Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.