A physical therapy mobility checkup for older adults: feasibility and participant preferences from a discrete choice experiment

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. Older adults value information related to health-status predictions based on physical performance measurements.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Gait speed has been referred to as the sixth vital sign or the functional vital sign (1), yet unlike blood pressure or heart rate, walking speed has rarely been used as a routine health indicator (2). Using functional measures, such as walking speed, could be a cost-effective way to identify early or subtle changes in mobility, often referred to as preclinical mobility disability. Such early identification could be the key to promoting healthy aging. However, a model of care specific to preventing mobility disability among older adults is not common practice (3).

Therefore, the authors of this paper developed a Mobility Checkup, a model that incorporates both assessment and education. Within the Mobility Checkup, participants were identified to have pre-clinical disability if they had a score within the 50th percentile of the age-referenced norms for the included measures (see Table 1 for additional detail).

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The aims of this 2-phase study were to:

  1. Determine the feasibility and outcomes of the Mobility Checkup, and
  2. Identify preferences of older adults regarding this model of care using a discrete choice experiment (DCE) phase. This second phase involved a new sample of older adults to the feasibility phase.

Gait speed has been referred to as the sixth vital sign, yet walking speed is rarely used as a routine health indicator.
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The Mobility Checkup appears to be a feasible preventative model that could be implemented by physiotherapists to prevent and/or reduce mobility disability among older adults.

METHODS

Feasibility Phase:

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