Mobility in older adults

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Webber, Sandra
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Mobility plays an important role in determining quality of life in older adults as it is closely tied to health, participation, and independence in later years. Although much of the literature to date has focused on walking and stair climbing, mobility also encompasses driving and the use of public transportation to access the community. Comprehensive definitions of mobility and techniques for objectively measuring community mobility are generally lacking. This thesis describes a new theoretical framework for mobility that illustrates how impairments can lead to limitations in accessing different life-spaces, and stresses the associations among determinants that influence mobility. The feasibility of using global positioning system (GPS) watches and accelerometers to monitor community mobility in older adults was also examined. Data acquired from the equipment were quite variable. While the technology offers promise for capturing detailed information (e.g., the timing, distances covered, and speeds reached on foot and in-vehicle), new GPS solutions are required to allow for data collection over an extended period of time. In addition, projects were conducted to examine ankle strength and power in older women because these muscle groups are important for physical function and mobility. Test-retest reliability on the dynamometer was found to be generally good for isotonic and isokinetic tests, but relatively poor for isometric rate of torque development. Measures of dorsiflexion (DF) and plantar flexion (PF) strength and power-related variables were significantly correlated with functional performance (gait speed, stair climb power, and foot movement time). An intervention study was conducted to determine the effects of ankle DF and PF resistance training performed concentrically “as fast as possible” on movement time in a brake response task. Power training with elastic bands resulted in the greatest reduction in movement time, which suggests that this low-cost, practical form of exercise may benefit older adults in circumstances when rapid generation of ankle torque is required. This thesis adds to the literature by examining mobility from a number of perspectives. Mobility determinants are comprehensively defined, community and laboratory-based measures are examined, and the effects of an intervention are evaluated to improve mobility assessment and treatment techniques in older adults.
neuromuscular, aging, strength
Webber, S.C., Porter, M.M., & Menec, V.H. (2010). Mobility in older adults: A comprehensive framework. The Gerontologist; doi: 10.1093/geront/gnq013
Webber, S.C., & Porter, M.M. (2009). Monitoring mobility in older adults using global positioning system (GPS) watches and accelerometers: A feasibility study. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 17(4), 455-467.
Webber, S.C., & Porter, M.M. (2010). Effects of ankle power training on movement time in mobility-impaired older women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cdd4e9
Webber, S.C., Porter, M.M., & Gardiner, P.F. (2009). Modeling age-related neuromuscular changes in humans. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 34(4), 732-744.