Neurological examination findings to predict limitations in mobility and falls in older persons without a history of neurological disease

Am J Med. 2004 Jun 15;116(12):807-15. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2004.01.010.


Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of neurological signs and their association with limitations in mobility and falls in a sample of older persons without known neurological disease.

Methods: A neurologist examined 818 participants from the InCHIANTI study who were aged > or =65 years and who did not have cognitive impairment, treatment with neuroleptics, and a history of neurological disease. Mobility was assessed as walking speed and self-reported ability to walk at least 1 km without difficulty. Participants were asked to report falls that had occurred in the previous 12 months.

Results: Less than 20% (160/818) of participants had no neurological signs. Neurological signs were more prevalent in older participants and those with impaired mobility. When all neurological signs were included in sex-and age-adjusted multivariate models, 10 were mutually independent correlates of poor mobility. After adjusting for age and sex, the number of neurological signs was associated with progressively slower walking speed (P <0.001), a higher probability of reported inability to walk 1 km (P <0.001), and a history of falls (P <0.05).

Conclusion: Neurological signs are independent correlates of limitations in mobility and falls in older persons who have no clear history of neurological disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Walking* / physiology