Muscle power is more important than strength in preventing falls in community-dwelling older adults

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. Muscle power is an essential component of preventing falls.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Among aging adults, muscle power is a stronger predictor of functional limitations compared to other physical capabilities such as muscle strength or maximal aerobic capacity (1,2). Muscle power has also been identified as an essential component of preventing falls (3). Due to its importance, physical therapists need to be able to evaluate and monitor changes in muscle power.

However, most of the available testing protocols are not feasible for clinical practice as they require expensive equipment or are time-consuming. Two muscle power tests that do not fit these criteria and are feasible for clinical practice are the 4 stair step test and the 5x sit to stand (STS) test (1,4).

The primary objective of this study was to determine whether muscle strength or power measurements were better at differentiating between fallers and non-fallers. The secondary objective was to determine the optimal threshold to differentiate fallers from non-fallers.

Among aging adults, muscle power is a stronger predictor of functional limitations compared to other physical capabilities such as muscle strength or maximal aerobic capacity.
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Older adults who participated in power training had more significant improvements in functional performance when compared to those who participated in conventional strength training.

METHODS

Participants: Included if at least 65 years old and free of a history of musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders, orthopedic conditions, cardiovascular conditions, and had a Mini-Mental Scale Exam score ≥ 25.

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