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Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/JPT.0b013e3181eda321
Research Reports

Update on Distance and Velocity Requirements for Community Ambulation

Andrews, A. Williams EdD, PT, NCS; Chinworth, Susan A. PhD, PT; Bourassa, Michael; Garvin, Miranda; Benton, Dacia; Tanner, Scott

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Purpose: The purposes of this study were to provide an update to the ambulatory distance requirements for community ambulation and to update gait speed performance and requirements at intersections.

Methods: Distances were measured at 9 types of sites using a rolling measuring device in accordance with the protocol set forth by Lerner-Frankiel and associates. The 9 types of sites were supermarkets, drug stores, banks, department stores, post offices, medical offices, superstores, club warehouses, and hardware stores. Gait speed allotted by crosswalk signals as well as the gait speeds of individuals through crosswalks were recorded. Qualitative observations of the pedestrians' age (older ≥ 65 years; younger < 65 years) and sex were also noted.

Results: Distances were measured at 141 different establishments. The shortest mean distance requirement was found in the medical offices at 65.82 (32.28) m. Club warehouses had the longest mean distance requirement at 676.82 (159.36) m. The mean gait speed used by the pedestrians (N = 139) was 1.32 (0.31) m/s while the mean speed necessary as set by the crosswalk signals was 0.49 (0.20) m/s. All of the individuals observed were able to cross the street within the allotted time and with adequate speed. The gait speeds met the normative data established for age and sex as well as data reported for slower older adults and some with incomplete spinal cord injury.

Conclusions: Distance requirements for full community ambulation may need to be increased to 600 m or more. Gait speed requirements at crosswalks in the communities measured are set to accommodate the gait speed capabilities of older pedestrians who attempt crossing at controlled intersections

Copyright © 2010 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association


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