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Purpose: The purpose of this research was to describe the variability of forward head posture in healthy older women, and to investigate the influence of age on variability.

Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive study included 187 healthy community-dwelling women volunteers ranging in age from 65-96 years. The forward head posture (FHP) measurement was derived from a sagittal photograph. The subjects were asked to perform a series of standing activities, and the photograph was taken while the subjects were performing these activities. Data analysis included descriptive analysis, FHP measurement analysis for normalcy, one-factor ANOVA with FHP by age group, post-hoc Tukey analysis, and trend analysis for the age-FHP relationship.

Results: Three age-group normative FHP means were identified: 48.84[degrees] (SE 0.97) for the 65-74 year old group, 41.20[degrees] (SE 0.78) for the 75-84 year old group, and 35.60[degrees] (SE 1.76) for the 85 year group. Significant differences were found in the FHP between these age groups. A subsequent trend analysis demonstrated a linear relationship between age and the FHP, with older women demonstrating a more severe FHP.

Conclusions: Age-associated variability in the FHP of healthy elderly women has been identified. The FHP values determined by this research may serve as normative guidelines for clinicians when conducting postural assessments, and in clinical decisionmaking regarding possible interventions.

(C) 2009 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA