The Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) was developed as a clinical tool to assess gait, balance and fall risk. Because the DGI evaluates not only usual steady-state walking, but also walking during more challenging tasks, it may be an especially sensitive test. The present investigation evaluated the DGI and its association with falls, fear of falling, depression, anxiety and other measures of balance and mobility in 278 healthy elderly individuals. Measures included the DGI, the Berg Balance Test (BBT), the Timed Up and Go (TUAG), the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor part, the Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scale and the number of annual falls. The DGI was moderately correlated with the BBT (r = 0.53; p < 0.001), the TUAG (r = -0.42; p < 0.001) and the ABC (r = 0.49; p < 0.001). Fallers performed worse on the DGI compared to non-fallers (p = 0.029). Scores on the DGI were near perfect in men (23.3 ± 1.2), but among women, there was a small, but significant (p < 0.001) decrease (22.5 ± 1.6). The reduction in the DGI score in women was due to stair climbing performance, with many women (65%) choosing to walk while holding a handrail, compared to only 39% of men. Scores on the BBT, the TUAG, the UPDRS and the MMSE were similar in men and women. Conversely, ABC scores and fall history were different. These findings suggest that the DGI, although susceptible to ceiling effects, appears to be an appropriate tool for assessing function in healthy older adults.
- Functional testing