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Walking Speed
The Instrument is Freely Available Here: Walking Speed .
Supplemental – Highly Recommended: Stroke (based on study type, disease stage and disease type)
Supplemental: Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Short Description of Instrument
Purpose: Walking speed is an indicator of function for detection of mobility impairments, risk of falls and prediction of morbidity and mortality.
Overview: Walking speed has been chosen by a panel of experts as the standardized assessment to measure locomotion for the motor function domain of the NIH Toolbox. It has robust psychometric properties, correlates with functional ability, and predicts future health status, functional decline, discharge locations and mortality.
Walking speed is assessed in meters per second. Walking speeds indicate the levels of impairment and functional levels of walking. Less than 0.4m/sec reflects severe gait impairment or household ambulation, 0.4m/sec  to  0.8m/sec  indicates moderate gait impairment or limited community ambulation and greater than 0.8 m/sec reflects mild impairment and ability to walk in the community. Improvement in functional levels is associated with improved activities of daily living (ADLs)/ Instrumental ADLS (IADLS) and quality of life.
Time: Assessment takes approximately 2 to 5 minutes.
Comments/Special Instructions
Other Important Notes: Walking speed is an easily accessible measuring tool that is an important objective measure of patient's functional status and highly predicative of morbidity, mortality and health care utilization and is clinically interpretable.
Scoring and Psychometric Properties
Scoring: Start your patient at the beginning of a 6 meter line.
Ask patient to walk "at a comfortable pace" to the end of the line – "Walk at a comfortable pace as if you are walking in the park". Allow participant to accelerate 1-meter and decelerate 1-meter.
Time during the central 4 meters.
Use a stopwatch to time from when the patient's leading limb crosses the test line and until the leading limb crosses the end test distance line.
Comfortable walking speed is time to complete 4 meters, reported in m/sec (4 meters/time to complete that distance).
Psychometric Properties: Self-selected walking speed measurement is reliable, valid, and sensitive to change.
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Fritz S, Lusardi M. White Paper: "Walking Speed: the Sixth Vital Sign". J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2009;32(2):2-5.
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Van Iersel MB, Munneke M, Esselink RA, Benraad CE, Olde Rikkert MG. Gait velocity and the Timed-Up-and-Go test were sensitive to changes in mobility in frail elderly patients. J Clin Epidemiol. 2008; 61(2):186-191.


Document last updated June 2020