Background: Standardization of performance-based physical function measures that are reliable and responsive to intervention is necessary for efficacy trials of function promoting anabolic therapies (FPTs). Herein, we describe a standardized method of measuring stair climbing power (SCP) and evaluate its ability to assess improvements in physical function in response to an FPT (testosterone) compared to gait speed.
Methods: We used a 12-step SCP test with and without carrying a load (loaded, LSCP or unloaded, USCP) in two testosterone trials in older men. SCP was determined from mass, total step-rise, and time of ascent measured with an electronic timing system. Associations between SCP and leg press performance (strength and power), testosterone levels, and gait speed were assessed. Test-retest reliability was evaluated using interclass correlation and Bland-Altman analyses.
Results: Baseline SCP was negatively associated with age and positively with leg strength and power and gait speed. Both tests of SCP were safe and showed excellent reliability (intra-class correlation 0.91-0.97 in both cohorts). Changes in testosterone concentrations were associated with changes in USCP and LSCP, but not gait speed in mobility-limited men. Changes in leg press performance were associated with SCP in both trials.
Conclusions: Both USCP and LSCP are safe and have high test-retest reliability. Compared to gait speed, SCP is associated more robustly with leg press performance and is sensitive to testosterone therapy. The LSCP might be a more responsive outcome than gait speed to evaluate the efficacy of FPT in randomized trials.
Keywords: Physical Function; Anabolic Intervention; Muscle Power; Testosterone.
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