An observational study has found that functional impairments like stooping, crouching, or kneeling (SCK) in older adults are predicted by decreased muscle strength.
Researchers discovered that adults with SCK difficulty had significant decreases in adjusted strength measurements of trunk extensor, knee extensor, and ankle flexion muscles.
Physical therapist researcher and APTA member Allon Goldberg, assistant professor in the Department of Health Care Sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, said: "As with standing up from a chair, stooping, crouching, and kneeling movements require coordination of the whole-body center of mass over a wide range of postures in order to prevent a loss of balance or fall.
"More research is needed, but it is reasonable to predict that a physical therapy program to improve strength in older adults who have difficulty performing basic stooping, crouching, or kneeling movements could lead to improvements in performing these activities, and these improvements could be associated with reduced number of falls."
The aim of the study was to compare trunk and lower-extremity muscle strength differences in older adults who had difficulty with stooping, crouching, or kneeling with older adults who did not have these difficulties.
Researchers examined 48 community-dwelling older adults, over age 65, with and without self-reported SCK difficulty to come up with their findings.
It was seen that older adults who reported trouble with basic stooping, crouching, or kneeling also had decreased strength in their legs. A relationship between SCK difficulty and both the level of strength and the ability to maintain proper balance was also noted.
Goldberg said: "The results of this study may have important implications for clinicians working to reduce falls risk in older adults.
"Rehabilitation or intervention programs aimed at addressing deficits in self-reported performance in stooping, crouching, or kneeling should focus on improving distal strength. Although addressing strength deficits is very important, those with stooping, crouching, or kneeling difficulty may also benefit from comprehensive programs by physical therapists that address balance confidence, coordination, leg joint limitations such as stiffness and pain, and sensory capacities."
The study was carried out when Goldberg was a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Co-authors of the study are Manuel Hernandez, MS (lead author), and Neil Alexander, MD, both at the University of Michigan.
The study has appeared in the January issue of Physical Therapy, (PTJ) the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).