Physical and performance measures for the identification of mild to moderate frailty

Marybeth Brown, David R. Sinacore, Ellen F. Binder, Wendy M. Kohrt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Scopus citations


Background. The relative importance and association of factors contributing to physical frailty in elderly persons are unclear. Methods. Physical measures of upper and lower extremity strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, sensation, and gait were evaluated in relation to scores obtained on a 36-point physical performance test (PPT) in 107 elderly subjects. Results. Scores on the PPT were significantly associated with the measures of strength and balance, gait, several range of motion values, and sensation. Subjects were also grouped according to score on the PPT as not frail (32-36 points), mildly frail (25-31 points), or moderately frail ( 17-24 points). ANOVA followed by Bonferroni post hoc analyses were used to examine the relationships of physical measures to this index of frailty. Balance measures, an obstacle course, the Berg scale, the full tandem portion of the Romberg test, and fast gait speed were significantly different among the three groups. Multiple stepwise regression analyses indicated that the strongest combination of variables, explaining 73% of all the variance in the PPT, included obstacle course performance, hip abduction strength, the semitandem portion of the Romberg test, and coordination (pegboard). Conclusions. Results provide further insight into the relative importance of factors that contribute to frailty and factors that should be considered in treatment planning for the remediation of physical frailty in old adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)M350-M355
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


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