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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2010, Article ID 310610, 6 pages
Research Article

Assessing Physical Performance in Centenarians: Norms and an Extended Scale from the Georgia Centenarian Study

1Department of Kinesiology, Department of Health Promotion & Behavior, Institute of Gerontology and Ramsey Center, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6554, USA
2Osaka University, Osaka 565-0871, Japan
3Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
4University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA

Received 13 February 2010; Revised 27 June 2010; Accepted 20 August 2010

Academic Editor: Donald Craig Willcox

Copyright © 2010 M. Elaine Cress et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Centenarians display a broad variation in physical abilities, from independence to bed-bound immobility. This range of abilities makes it difficult to evaluate functioning using a single instrument. Using data from a population-based sample of 244 centenarians ( = 100.57 years, 84.8% women, 62.7% institutionalized, and 21.3% African American) and 80 octogenarians ( = 84.32 years, 66.3% women, 16.3% institutionalized, and 17.5% African American) we (1) provide norms on the Short Physical Performance Battery and (2) extend the range of this scale using performance on additional tasks and item response theory (IRT) models, reporting information on concurrent and predictive validity of this approach. Using the original SPPB scoring criteria, 73.0% of centenarian men and 86.0% of centenarian women are identified as severely impaired by the scale's original classification scheme. Results suggest that conventional norms for older adults need substantial revision for centenarian populations and that item response theory methods can be helpful to address floor and ceiling effects found with any single measure.