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Reliability of the parallel walk test for the elderly

Lark, S. D. and McCarthy, P. W. and Rowe, D. A. (2011) Reliability of the parallel walk test for the elderly. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 92 (5). pp. 812-817. ISSN 0003-9993

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Abstract

To determine interrater agreement and test-retest reliability of the parallel walk test (PWT), a simple method of measuring dynamic balance in the elderly during gait. Elderly fallers (N=34; mean ± SD age, 81.3±5.4y) registered at a falls clinic participated in this study based on Mini-Mental State Examination and Barthel Index scores. Subjects were timed as they walked 6m between 2 parallel lines on the floor at 3 different widths (20, 30.5, 38cm) wearing their own footwear. They were scored for foot placement on (1 point) or outside the lines (2 points) by 2 separate raters. Fifteen subjects were retested 1 week later. Footfall score and time to complete the PWT. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and 95% limits of agreement were calculated for interrater and test-retest reliability. For widths of 20, 30.5, and 38cm, interrater reliability ICC range was .93 to .99 and test-retest ICC range was .63 to .90. The PWT was implemented easily by 2 raters with a high degree of interrater reliability. Test-retest reliability was not as high, possibly because of the high susceptibility of variation from 1 week to the next for frail elderly subjects. The 20- and 30.5-cm widths are recommended for future use of the PWT.