Predicting the probability for falls in community-dwelling older adults using the Timed Up & Go Test

A Shumway-Cook, S Brauer, M Woollacott
Physical Therapy 2000, 80 (9): 896-903

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: This study examined the sensitivity and specificity of the Timed Up & Go Test (TUG) under single-task versus dual-task conditions for identifying elderly individuals who are prone to falling.

SUBJECTS: Fifteen older adults with no history of falls (mean age=78 years, SD=6, range=65-85) and 15 older adults with a history of 2 or more falls in the previous 6 months (mean age=86.2 years, SD=6, range=76-95) participated.

METHODS: Time taken to complete the TUG under 3 conditions (TUG, TUG with a subtraction task [TUGcognitive], and TUG while carrying a full cup of water [TUGmanual]) was measured. A multivariate analysis of variance and discriminant function and logistic regression analyses were performed.

RESULTS: The TUG was found to be a sensitive (sensitivity=87%) and specific (specificity=87%) measure for identifying elderly individuals who are prone to falls. For both groups of older adults, simultaneous performance of an additional task increased the time taken to complete the TUG, with the greatest effect in the older adults with a history of falls. The TUG scores with or without an additional task (cognitive or manual) were equivalent with respect to identifying fallers and nonfallers.

CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: The results suggest that the TUG is a sensitive and specific measure for identifying community-dwelling adults who are at risk for falls. The ability to predict falls is not enhanced by adding a secondary task when performing the TUG.

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