Functionally relevant thresholds of quadriceps femoris strength

Lori L. Ploutz-Snyder, Todd Manini, Robert J. Ploutz-Snyder, Douglas A. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to identify quadriceps femoris strength thresholds below which performance on ambulatory tasks is compromised. A second purpose was to evaluate whether self-reported functioning matches evaluated performance of the activities. Subjects (N = 100; age 73 ± 0.9 years) participated in isometric knee extension strength tests, performed three functional ambulatory tasks (chair rise, gait speed, and stair ascent and descent), and answered standard survey questions assessing physical function. Significant relationships were observed between functional performance and the ratio of isometric leg extension peak torque to body weight (STR/WT) for each activity (p<.0001). For each activity, thresholds of STR/WT between 3.0 and 3.5 N m/kg were observed, below which the likelihood for success was reduced. Thresholds were determined by calculating the value of STR/WT that minimized the classification error. Individuals with a STR/WT <3.0 N m/kg are at a substantial risk for impaired function in chair rise, gait speed, and stair ascent and descent. Sensitivity and specificity of STR/WT as a predictor of functional success ranged from 76% to 81% and from 78% to 94%, respectively, depending on activity. This is of clinical significance, as the STR/WT thresholds can identify individuals with preclinical disability (beginning to have difficulty with ambulatory tasks) as opposed to those in whom an outright disability is observed. This may be useful for targeting individuals for strengthening interventions and developing specific intervention goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B144-B152
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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