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Hip Abductor Strength and Step Width in the Elderly: A Correlational Study

1 May 1999


Background and Purpose. As one ages, maintaining good balance is an important factor in the prevention of falls. Increasing step-width during gait appears to, be an intuitive way to improve or maintain balance by increasing the base of support. However, there is conflicting research regarding the change of step-width in gait as one ages. One factor that may influence step-width is the strength of the hip abductor muscle group. The purpose of our study was to determine the correlation between hip abductor muscle strength with step-width in the gait of elderly.

Subjects and Methods. A convenience sample of 51 subjects, ages 65-85, was tested. Each subject was evaluated for hip abductor muscle strength with a hand-held dynamometer for a total of three trials. Each subject was then asked to ambulate across the Gaitrite gait mat to determine the step width. Additional data collected included subjects' weight; leg length and age. All raw data was analyzed using a simple regression (p < ,05).

Results. Intratester reliability of the hand-held dynamometer was acceptable ( ICC = .96). The correlation between mean hip abductor muscle force and step-width during gait was found to be insignificant (r-value .219, p-value .123).

Discussion and Conclusion. The results of our study suggest that step-width in persons age 65-85 does not significantly correlate with hip abductor muscle strength. Our results did show that a hand held dynamometer is a reliable instrument when measuring hip abductor muscle strength.


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