Responsiveness of 2 procedures for measurement of temporal and spatial gait parameters in older adults.
To determine the responsiveness of the GAITRite system and a stopwatch-footfall count technique for measurement of walking speed, cadence, and stride length during comfortable and fast-paced walking. Criterion standard. Research laboratory in a physical therapy education program. Twenty-four healthy volunteers (13 men, 11 women; mean age 74.5 years) without lower extremity injury or history of falls. Participants walked across a GAITRite mat with embedded pressure sensors at their self-selected comfortable and fast walking speeds. Simultaneously, an examiner, using a stopwatch, recorded the elapsed time necessary to cross the mat and counted the number of complete footfalls. Walking speed, cadence, and stride length were compared between the GAITRite system and the stopwatch-footfall count technique for both comfortable and fast walking speeds. Responsiveness values for each procedure were described by the 95% minimal detectable change (MDC). During comfortable self-paced walking, MDC values for the stopwatch-footfall count technique ranged from 10% to 65% greater than those obtained for the GAITRite system. During fast self-paced walking MDC values for the stopwatch-footfall count technique ranged from 26% to 65% larger than those measured by the GAITRite system for the temporal and spatial gait performance parameters. When measured by the GAITRite system, the 95% MDC values for temporal and spatial gait parameters of older community-dwelling adults were more responsive to change than those obtained by the stopwatch-footfall technique. Clinicians should recognize that self-selected walking speed, cadence, and stride length when obtained by an instrumented walkway must be equal to or exceed 12.6 cm/s, 8.4 steps/min, or 7 cm, respectively, for the change to be considered real change and not from measurement error. Copyright 2010 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.