Dynamic Gait Index

Use this Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) to determine the likelihood of falling in older adults. Check out the guide to download a free template.

By Patricia Buenaventura on Feb 27, 2024.

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What is a Dynamic Gait Index (DGI)?

The , also known as DGI, is an assessment developed to compute the likelihood of falling in older adults. It tests the 8 types of gait, namely:

  • Gait Level Surface
  • Change in Gait Speed
  • Gait with Horizontal Head Turns
  • Gait with Vertical Head Turns
  • Gait and Pivot Turn
  • Step Over Obstacles
  • Stairs.

These tasks are everyday movements a client may encounter, from walking with and without obstacles to abrupt turning/stopping and even various head movements.

The test utilizes equipment such as shoeboxes, stairs, a stopwatch, and a marked walkway, and each test shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. As for scoring, the test uses an ordinal scale from 0-3, with 3 being the highest and 0 being the lowest. The corresponding level of function per score is as follows:

  • Zero (0) = Severe Impairment
  • One (1) = Moderate Impairment
  • Two (2) = Mild Impairment
  • Three (3) = Normal

Scoring relies on the rater’s comprehension of the provided description on the template and their observational skills. Because there are situations wherein a second slower or a tilt towards a certain side can be the basis of a higher or lower score.

By the end of the test, the rater must be able to identify the fall risk and possible challenges a client may face outside the test set-up.

Printable Dynamic Gait Index

Download this Dynamic Gait Index to assess your older client’s risk of falling.

How Does this Dynamic Gait Index Work?

Step One. Download the Template

Access the template above by clicking “Download Template” or search for “Dynamic Gait Index” in Carepatron’s template library

Step Two. Prepare the Template and Equipment

Fill out the basic details on top of the form: date, patient name, age, gender, sex, patient’s signature, and your name and signature. 

Afterward, prepare the following equipment you need for carrying out the test:

  • Shoe box
  • Two obstacles
  • Stairs
  • 20-foot pathway

It’s recommended that you read over the test to familiarize yourself with the instructions, scoring, and descriptions.

Step Three. Conduct the Test

Instruct your client to do the movements written on the template from top-to-bottom, taking short breaks in between if necessary. A test should take 20 minutes to complete.  

Feel free to be on guard half a step behind your client where they can’t see you, just in case they need physical assistance. 

Step Four. Compute and Interpret the Score

After every test, check off the score corresponding to the level of function based on the description provided on the template. When you’ve finished with the 8 facets, compute the total score by adding the scores obtained from the tests. 

Remember to add a narrative summary of findings at the bottom. An example is: “Client’s Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) score is 14. They are at fall risk.”

Step Five. Formulate a Clinical Impression or Diagnosis

Once you’ve finished scoring and writing down your findings, you may proceed to formulate a clinical impression or diagnosis. However, it’s best that clients undergo further testing since certain disorders need complementary tests before diagnosis.   

Scoring

Scoring a Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) is as simple as observing your client per test and giving them the corresponding score based on how fast or accurately they do the movement with or without assistance.

Generally, you can score a client a three (3) if they are fully capable of following instructions to the dot without delay or assistance and a zero (0) if they are unable to follow instructions or refuse due to pain. Giving a one (1) or two (2) score will depend heavily on your observational skills. You may refer to the template to see the detailed descriptions.

Dynamic Gait Index Example (Sample)

Here’s a Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) example you can use as a guide for filling out, scoring and interpreting the scores. 

For an on-hand copy you may refer to repeatedly, click the “Download Example PDF” button above.

Download this Dynamic Gait Index Example (Sample) here:

Dynamic Gait Index Example (Sample)

When to Use this Dynamic Gait Assessment?

Practitioners can use the Dynamic Gait Assessment when the client manifests disorder symptoms that affect their gait or balance and interfere with everyday activities. However, even prior to manifestation, a practitioner may conduct the assessment when the client verbalizes concerns and problems doing any of the movements in the test in a real-life setting. 

Aside from those, one must only use the template and conduct the test with the following considerations:

  • Environment: To reduce distractions, the practitioner must consider administering the test in a standardized testing environment such as a doctor’s office, hospital, or an outpatient/rehab clinic. 
  • Medical History: A practitioner may consider asking or looking over the medical history in case the template shall be used as a baseline, a progress tracker, or a point of comparison. Moreover, if the client is diagnosed with other conditioners, there may be more appropriate tests to check their gait instead. 
  • Client’s age: The test may be designed for older adults; however, it can be administered to anyone of any age. Considering your client’s age will make it easier for you to filter out conditioners and disorders a client may have.

Benefits of Free Dynamic Gait Index

Establish Baseline

Practitioners who have new clients who haven’t been diagnosed or aren’t in the middle of a treatment plan or program can use the template to establish a baseline for comparison post-test and post-intervention. 

Provides Insight

Should the client be in the middle of a treatment or program, practitioners can also use this template to check if the intervention is helping in reducing the client’s risk of falling. 

Improved Self-Awareness

Clients who haven’t done the test before can learn more about themselves through this test and identify their physical limits and capabilities. 

Quick Screening

Since this test can be accomplished in around 15-20 minutes, it’s an ideal test a practitioner can conduct during a consenting client’s first session. That way, they may proceed with the next steps to handling their concerns or alleviating their pain as soon as possible.

Create Individualized Treatment Plans

It is expected that clients will have varying results on a standardized test. Hence, creating a unique treatment plan to address specific problem areas is best. This test can be a reliable resource when designing a program or deciding a treatment plan since it pinpoints which movements need intervention. 

Why Use this Dynamic Gait app?

We understand that practitioners have a lot on their plate beyond patient care. And it can be challenging to accomplish all of them within the day without having to take up most of your time and effort that should be going to caring for your patients. 

That’s why we’ve created Carepatron, an app available on desktop, iOs, and Android to equip you with the means, tools, and resources to automate administrative tasks and streamline both clinical and business processes. More specifically, you’ll have access anytime, anywhere to

  • Over 100 PDF templates for any test you have to administer or survey your patients must answer
  • An HIPAA-compliant and secure EHR for your digital notes, client’s medical history for sharing with relevant parties, and medical billing history
  • Your favorite scheduling and telehealth software applications to reduce no-show appointments

These and more are all available for free at Carepatron! Sign up today to gain access.

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Who created the Dynamic Gait Index?
Who created the Dynamic Gait Index?

Commonly asked questions

Who created the Dynamic Gait Index?

Anne Shumway-Cook developed the Dynamic Gait Index in 1995.

How to interpret the Dynamic Gait Index score?

On the Dynamic Gait Index template, you will see that there is a corresponding level of function per score. The level of function will tell you how capable or incapable the client is of achieving certain movements without assistance. 

As for the total score, interpretation is as simple as, if the client obtains a score of less than 19, they are at high risk of falling and if they get a score greater than 22, means they are ambulatory without risks.

How to administer the Dynamic Gait Index? / What does the Dynamic Gait Index measure?

The Dynamic Gait Index assesses the risk of falling in older adults through 8 types of gait tests involving tasks that require the client to do everyday movements such as walking, stopping, turning etc. It also can measure a client’s stability and body control for movement.

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