Knee extensor power asymmetry is unrelated to functional mobility of older adults
Purpose: To determine whether knee extensor power asymmetry limits functional mobility of older adults who possess muscle weakness.
Methods: Knee extensor power was measured in 36 older men and women (76.0 ± 7.6 yr), for each leg, on an isokinetic dynamometer at 60, 180, and 300 deg s− 1 and power asymmetry was calculated as the percent difference in power between strong and weak legs, at each isokinetic velocity. 400-m walk, stair ascent, and five-repetition chair rise tests were performed to assess functional mobility. Pearson correlations were used to examine the relationship between weak leg power, strong leg power, power asymmetry, and 400-m walk time, stair ascent time, and chair rise time. Participants were then stratified into low power-high asymmetry (LP-HA), low power-low asymmetry (LP-LA), high power-high asymmetry (HP-HA), and high power-low asymmetry (HP-LA) groups who were compared for functional mobility.
Results: Knee extensor power asymmetry was unrelated to 400-m walk time (r = 0.16, p = 0.180), stair ascent time (r = 0.22, p = 0.094), or chair rise time (r = 0.03, p = 0.437), whereas weak and strong leg powers were equally associated with 400-m time (r = − 0.62, p < 0.001; r = − 0.62, p < 0.001), stair ascent time (r = − 0.55, p < 0.001; r = − 0.57, p < 0.001), and chair rise time (r = − 0.28, p = 0.048; r = − 0.31, p = 0.032), respectively. Power asymmetry was lowest at 60 deg s− 1 (12%), and increased with contraction velocity (p = 0.001) to 15% at 180 deg s− 1 and to 20% at 300 deg s− 1. LP-HA exhibited 26% slower 400-walk time than HP-LA (p = 0.015) and 19% slower than HP-HA (p = 0.037). LP-HA had 31% slower stair ascent time than HP-LA (p = 0.033). There were no differences in chair rise performance between groups.
Conclusions: Knee extensor power asymmetry was unrelated to 400-m walk, stair ascent, and chair rise performance in older adults. Weak and strong limb powers were equally related to these functional measures, but a leftward shift of the power-mobility curve exists for the weak leg that may hinder clinical assessment if strength or power is measured on a single limb and symmetry is assumed. The greatest degree of knee extensor power asymmetry occurred at the fastest isokinetic velocity, which suggests high-speed muscle contractions may better differentiate laterality of function in older individuals.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
D.P. LaRoche, Villa, M.R., Bond, C.W., Cook, S.B. (2017) Knee extensor power asymmetry is unrelated to functional mobility of older adults. Experimental Gerontology. 98:54-61.
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