Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMC Public Health





First Page


PubMed ID



Springer Nature


School of Medical and Health Sciences




National Health and Medical Research Council

Grant Number

NHMRC Number : 1055084


Herbert, R. D., Taylor, J. L., Lord, S. R., & Gandevia, S. C. (2020). Prevalence of motor impairment in residents of New South Wales, Australia aged 55 years and over: cross-sectional survey of the 45 and Up cohort. BMC Public Health, 20(1), Article 1353.


BACKGROUND: The population prevalence of many diseases is known. However, little is known of the population prevalence of motor impairments. METHODS: The aim of this study was to determine the point prevalence of specific motor impairments (weakness, fatigue, contracture, impaired balance and impaired coordination) in the population aged 55 years and older resident in New South Wales, Australia in 2018. 55,210 members of the 45 and Up cohort were invited to participate in a follow-up survey that included questions on motor impairment. Responses were received from 20,141 people (36%). Calibrated estimates of prevalence of specific motor impairments, and of having at least one motor impairment, were obtained using survey weights based on the known multivariate distributions of age, gender and geographical location (28 regions) in the population. RESULTS: More than one-third of adults aged over 55 residing in New South Wales have difficulty using their hands, arms or legs. The prevalence of each motor impairment (muscle weakness, fatigue, contracture, impaired balance or impaired coordination) in this population is between 4 and 12%. The prevalence of at least one of these impairments is 21%. The prevalence of at least one impairment in people aged 85 and over is 42%. Women consistently had more difficulty using hands, arms and legs, and more motor impairment, than men. Difficulty using hands, arms and legs and the prevalence of all motor impairments, especially poor balance, greatly increased with age. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of specific motor impairments in older Australian adults is high - comparable to that of the most prevalent diseases. There may be merit in considering motor impairment as a significant public health problem in its own right.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.