White paper: "walking speed: The sixth vital sign"

  • Fritz S
  • Lusardi M
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alking speed is “almost the perfect measure.”1 A reliable, valid,2,3 sensitive4 and specific5 measure, self-selected walking speed (WS), also termed gait velocity, correlates with functional ability,6 and balance confidence.7 It has the potential to pre-dict future health status,8,9 and functional decline10 including hospitalization,11 discharge location,12,13 and mortality.14 Walk-ing speed reflects both functional and physiological changes,6 is a discriminating factor in determining potential for rehabili-tation,15 and aids in prediction of falls16 and fear of falling.17 Furthermore, progression of WS has been linked to clinical meaningful changes in quality of life18 and in home and com-munity walking behavior.19 Due to its ease of use20 and psycho-metric properties, WS has been used as a predictor and outcome measure across multiple diagnoses.8,9,19,21-26 In addition, WS was chosen by a panel of experts as the standardized assessment to measure locomotion for the Motor Function Domain of the NIH Toolbox.27

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  • Stacy Fritz

  • Michelle Lusardi

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