This study was an observational cohort design with participants assigned to groups on the basis of BMD status. Fifty-four women, 31 with low BMD and 23 with normal BMD, participated. Physical performance was measured by assessment of dynamic balance (timed backward tandem walk test), strength (handheld dynamometry of isometric quadriceps muscle force production), and free gait speed. Gait variability was assessed on the basis of the coefficient of variation for temporal-spatial gait characteristics. Falls and fractures were assessed for the year after initial testing. Significant between-group differences were found for step time and stance time variability.
Women in early postmenopause and with low BMD exhibited increased gait variability in step time and stance time but did not exhibit differences in balance, strength, or gait speed. Gait variability may be more sensitive for detecting differences in women in early postmenopause and with or without low BMD than more typical measures of physical performance.
Palombaro KM, Hack LM, Mangione KK, Barr AE, Newton RA, Magri F, Speziale T. Gait Variability Detects Women in Early Postmenopause With Low Bone Mineral Density. Physical Therapy, 2009 Oct 15, online article ahead of print