I'm sure the BEST primary care physicians in America are consistently measuring this important clinical variable in their older patients as a predictor of mortality and a gauge for the medical necessity for certain services, such as physical therapy.
However, I'm even more sure that MOST physical therapists are using this important clinical tool.
Physical therapist managers may even use 10' Gait Velocity to improve their clinical documentation and prevent a Medicare Audit.
This television news report shows how walking speed measurement is becoming more contemporary.
The August 2009 Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy paper titled Walking Speed: The Sixth Vital Sign presents a helpful graph that I recommend every physical therapist manager include in their therapists' toolkit.
This 2001 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) paper describes how the best academic physicians are beginning to recognize the value in documenting and treating slowed gait in elderly people as a primary source of disability.
I'd like to see the 10' Gait Velocity (Walking Speed) tool used as a screening device in a primary care setting that might allow physical therapists to do the following:
- assess populations of patients eligible for treatment
- score their risk for a future fall or disabling condition
- treat them proactively or refer them, as necessary
- and lower future health care costs.
Who else thinks this is a good idea?