Objectives: Gait variability is an important indicator of impaired mobility in older adults; however, little is known about the meaning of change in gait variability over time. This study estimated clinically meaningful change in measures of gait variability using both distribution- and anchor-based approaches. Design: Community-based observational cohort study. Setting: Bronx County and the research center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Participants: Of 1148 participants in the Einstein Aging Study, 241 had quantitative gait assessments in two consecutive years between 2001 and 2005. Measurements: Gait variables were collected using a 12-foot instrumented walkway as participants walked at their normal walking speed. Gait variability was defined as the within-person standard deviation (SD) across steps in two 12-foot walks. Distribution-based meaningful change estimates used Cohen's effect size (0.2 for small and 0.5 for moderate effects). Anchor-based estimates were obtained using dichotomous and ordinal self-reported walking ability ratings as anchors. Results: Distribution-based estimates for small and substantial changes of variability measures were: stance time 0.005 and 0.014 s; swing time 0.003 and 0.009 s; step length 0.24 and 0.61 cm; and step width 0.03 and 0.08 cm. Among those reporting no change in walking ability, measures of gait variability were stable over 1 year. Among those reporting a decline in walking, stance time and swing time variability increased. Among those reporting an improvement in walking, only step length variability improved. Conclusion: Preliminary criteria for meaningful change are 0.01 s for stance time and swing time variability and 0.25 cm for step length variability. These estimates may identify important changes over time in both clinical settings and research studies.
- Gait speed
- Gait variability
- Meaningful change
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine