Background: Gait speed is a quick, inexpensive, reliable measure of functional capacity with well-documented predictive value for major health-related outcomes. Numerous epidemiological studies have documented gait speed in healthy, community-dwelling older people. The purpose of this study is to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of gait speed in a specific group with mobility limitations-geriatric patients in clinical settings.
Methods: Relevant databases were searched systematically for original research articles published in February 2011 measuring gait speed in persons aged 70 or older in hospital inpatient or outpatients settings. Meta-analysis determined gait speed data for each setting adjusting for covariates.
Results: The review included 48 studies providing data from 7,000 participants. Across the hospital settings, the gait speed estimate for usual pace was 0.58 m/s (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.49-0.67) and for maximal pace was 0.89 m/s (95% CI: 0.75-1.02). These estimates were based on most recent year of publication (2011) and median percentage of female participants (63%). Gait speed at usual pace in acute care settings was 0.46 m/s (95% CI: 0.34-0.57), which was significantly slower than the gait speed of 0.74 m/s (95% CI: 0.65-0.83) recorded in outpatient settings.
Conclusions: Gait speed is an important measure in comprehensive geriatric assessment. The consolidation of data from multiple studies reported in this meta-analysis highlights the mobility limitations experienced by older people in clinical settings and the need for ongoing rehabilitation to attain levels sufficient for reintegration in the community.