Objective: To establish the concurrent validity of our new balance instrument, functional reach (FR = maximal safe standing forward reach), as a marker of physical frailty compared with other clinical measures of physical performance.
Design, setting and participants: 45 community-dwelling persons age 66-104 were evaluated at one point in time using (1) FR (yardstick method), (2) Physical and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (PADL, IADL), (3) Life Space, a 3-point measure of social mobility, (4) 10-item hierarchical mobility skills protocol, (5) 10-foot walking speed, (6) one-footed standing, and (7) tandem walking. Data analysis employed Spearman correlations. Partial r's were also calculated after controlling for age.
Results: The FR performance range was broad (4.3-16.5 inches, mean 10.9, SD 3.1). Except for PADL, the association of FR with the other physical performance measures was strong, with r's ranging from 0.64-0.71; the association of FR with PADL was 0.48. After controlling for age in the regression analysis, partial r's ranged from 0.52-0.63. The association of FR with age was -0.50.
Conclusions: Based on cross-sectional data, FR is a practical instrument that correlates with physical frailty even more than with age.