Relationship between lower-extremity joint torque and the risk for falls in a group of community dwelling older adults


This clinical investigation examined 1) the relationship between lower extremity joint torque and risk for falls and 2) the effectiveness of physical therapy intervention in decreasing the risk for falls and increasing lower extremity joint torque in a group of community dwelling older adults. Twenty-two healthy adults (6 males, 16 females) ages 65 and older participated. All participants were given an extensive examination to identify risk for falls and performance on selected measures of balance, strength, and mobility, including muscle performance measured as joint torque using hand-held dynamometry and risk for falls by scores on the Berg Balance Scale (Berg, Wood-Dauphinee, Williams, and Gayton 1989), Functional Reach Test (Duncan, Weiner, Chandler, and Studentski, 1990), and the Timed “Up & Go” Test (Podsiadlo and Richardson, 1991). Participants took part in an exercise program designed to address impairments identified during the initial examination and facilitate improvement in lower extremity strength, flexibility, and balance. The Control group received no intervention, however were encouraged to continue with their normal activities, including exercise. Descriptive statistics, paired t-tests, analyses of variance, and correlational analyses were completed indicating statistically significant differences between subjects classified as Fallers and Non-fallers based on their performance on selected balance and mobility tests and joint torque measurements. Participants classified as Fallers who participated in the physical therapy intervention demonstrated increases in lower extremity joint torque and their performance on the Berg Balance Scale. Physical therapy intervention in the form of an exercise program improved lower extremity joint torque and decreased the risk for falls among the participants in this study identified as having an increased risk for falls.



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Physiotherapy Theory and Practice 20