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Vol. 40 No. 4, July/August 2003

Lower-limb extensor power and lifting characteristics in disabled elders

Teresa M. Dancewicz, MS, PT, MMHS, MPT; David E. Krebs, PhD, PT; Chris A. McGibbon, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital Biomotion Laboratory and Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health
Professions, Boston, MA
Abstract — -Few reports address lifting in disabled elders. Resistance training may facilitate function by improving coordination and muscular recruitment in common lifting tasks. Subjects were considered "functionally limited" if they reported a limitation in at least 1 of 9 possible functional areas listed on the Short-Form Health Survey physical function scale (SF-36), excluding the vigorous activity item. Eighty-nine functionally limited elders (60.3 to 89.8 years old) consented to participate in an intervention trial consisting of a 6-month in-home video-facilitated resistance exercise program using elastic bands. Biomechanical variables (leg extensor power, work, squared jerk), temporal outcomes (lift time and time to peak leg powers), and leg extensor strength were analyzed with the use of analysis of variance (ANOVA) between the (1) experimental group versus control group and the (2) subgroup of the weakest third of subjects (pretest leg extensor strength as percent of body weight [BW]). The experimental group had significant improvements in strength in knee extension (16.7%) and hip extension (20.5%). Resistance-trained weak subjects significantly increased hip extension strength compared to controls. A trend toward improved performance in lifting-decreased total lift time-was noted in the resistance-trained subjects. Significant correlations were found between total leg extension power, total leg extension strength, total work, and lift time. Resistance-trained disabled elders demonstrated strength benefits and several trends consistent with improved coordination and more efficient lifting. Leg-muscle power was related to better functional performance in lifting.
Key words: biomechanics, disabled elders, functionally limited elders, lifting, power, strength.
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