Functional reach: a marker of physical frailty

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 Mar;40(3):203-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1992.tb02068.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posture
  • Proprioception*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Walking