The Effects of a Walking Intervention on Gait Parameters in Older Adults Residing in Long-Term Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial
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ObjectivesWe examined the effects of a walking intervention in older adults residing in long-term care (LTC) homes on gait velocity (primary outcome), and stride length, cadence and heel-to-heel base of support (secondary outcomes) compared to those in an interpersonal interaction control group and a care-as-usual control group at 16-weeks post-intervention.
MethodsThese previously unpublished gait data were collected as part of a larger prospective, randomized, three group study. One hundred and sixty-eight participants residing in 12 LTC homes were randomized into: a) a walking group (n=57) - 1:1 supervised, individualized, progressive, 30 minutes, five times a week walking program for 16 weeks; b) an interpersonal interaction group (n=55) - stationary 1:1 conversation time with research personnel; and, c) a care-as-usual control group (n=56). Gait was assessed at baseline and 16-weeks post-intervention using the GAITRite® computerized system. One-way Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), controlling for age, sex, cognitive status and baseline gait parameter (velocity, stride length, cadence, heel-to-heel base of support) was used to examine differences among groups for velocity, stride length, cadence, and heel-to-heel base of support at 16-weeks post-intervention.
ResultsNinety-one participants with available data were included in this analysis: walking group (n=31/57, mean age=82.77±6.75 years); interpersonal interaction group (n=31/55, mean age=82.74±9.27 years); care-as-usual control group (n=29/56, mean age=85.40±8.78 years). ANCOVA showed a significant difference in the mean gait velocity at 16-weeks post-intervention [F(2, 84) =6.99, p=0.0006); η2 (95%CI)=0.16 (0.02, 0.27)]. Post hoc comparisons using Sidak test showed that the estimated marginal mean (EMM) for velocity for the walking group [EMM (SE), 0.51m/s (0.03)] was significantly higher compared to the interpersonal interaction group [EMM (SE), 0.38m/s (0.03); t(83)=3.15, p=0.007] and the care-as-usual control group [EMM (SE), 0.38m/s (0.03)]; t(83)=3.32, p=0.004]. No significant difference was observed between groups for stride length, cadence or heel-to-heel base of support.
ConclusionLTC residents with limited physical functioning showed significant improvement in gait velocity but not in stride length, cadence or heel-to-heel base of support after a 16-week walking intervention.
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