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Abstract

Background and Purpose. The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of measurements obtained with a seven-item modified version of the Gait Abnormality Rating Scale (GARS-M), an assessment of gait designed to predict risk of falling among community-dwelling, frail older persons. Subjects. Fifty-two community-dwelling, frail older persons, with a mean age of 74.8 years (SD=6.75), participated. Methods. A history of falls was determined from self-report or by proxy report. The GARS-M was scored from videotapes of subjects walking at self-selected paces. Gait characteristics were recorded during a timed walk on a 6-m brown-paper walkway. Results. Scores obtained by three raters for 23 subjects demonstrated moderate to substantial intrarater and interrater reliability. Concurrent validity, as assessed by Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients, was demonstrated for the relationship between GARS-M scores and stride length (r=−.754) and for the relationship between GARS-M scores and walking speed (r=−.679). Mean GARS-M scores distinguished between frail older persons with and without a history of recurrent falls (mean GARS-M scores of 9.0 and 3.8, respectively). Conclusion and Discussion. The GARS-M is a reliable and valid measure for documenting gait features associated with an increased risk of falling among community-dwelling, frail older persons and may provide a clinically useful alternative to established quantitative gait-assessment methods.

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  • Received July 5, 1995.
  • Accepted March 27, 1996.