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Foot Problems in Older Adults

by MASS4D® Prescription Orthotics September 11, 2018

MASS4D® Abstract

Although foot problems are varied and the causes multifactorial, three major foot issues in older adults include pain, neuropathy, and deformities.

The objectives of this study, conducted as part of the Arizona Frailty Cohort, were to 1) characterize foot problems in older adults, particularly pain, deformities, and neuropathy; 2) evaluate the association of foot problems with frailty syndrome and prospective falls; and 3) examine the association between foot problems and objective wearable sensor–derived physical performance parameters (balance and gait) and PA.

Participants were recruited from primary, secondary, and tertiary health-care settings; community providers; assisted living facilities; retirement homes; and aging service organizations.

Demographic and health history data (age, sex, race/ethnicity, and daily medication count) were gathered through self-report.

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Participants were asked to rate their pain in each foot separately by marking their current pain level on a 10-cm visual analog scale that spanned from ‘’no pain’’ to ‘‘worst pain ever.’’

Frailty was assessed using the five components specified by Fried et al. of weight loss, weakness, walking speed, exhaustion, and low energy expenditure.

Self-reported history of recent falls and self-reported prospective fall incidence were recorded separately.

Gait and balance trials were performed using a validated wearable technology of five small inertial sensors.

This study presents compelling evidence of a relationship between foot problems and frailty that strengthens as the frailty level becomes more profound.

The results also demonstrated several sensor-assessed gait decrements associated with foot problems.

This information may prove useful for evaluating individuals who are at an increased risk for falls and gait abnormalities due to specific foot problems.

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  1. Muchna, A., Najafi, B., Wendel, C. S., Schwenk, M., Armstrong, D. G., Mohler, J. (2018) Foot Problems in Older Adults. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association: March/April 2018, Vol. 108, No. 2, pp. 126-139

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