A comparison of four functional tests in discriminating fallers from non-fallers in older people

A Y Y Chiu, S S Y Au-Yeung, S K Lo
Disability and Rehabilitation 2003 January 7, 25 (1): 45-50

PURPOSE: Which functional tests on mobility and balance can better screen older people at risk of falls is unclear. This study aims to compare the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Tinetti Mobility Score (TMS), Elderly Mobility Scale (EMS) and Timed Up and Go test (TUG) in discriminating fallers from non-fallers in older people.

METHOD: This was a case-control study involving one rater who conducted a mobility and balance assessment on subjects using the four functional tests in random sequence. Subjects recruited included 17 and 22 older people with a history of single and multiple falls respectively from a public Falls Clinic, and 39 community-dwellers without fall history and whose age, sex and BMI matched those of the fallers. All subjects underwent the mobility and balance assessment within one day.

RESULTS: Single fallers performed better than multiple fallers in all four functional tests but were worse than non-fallers in the BBS, TMS and TUG. The BBS demonstrated the best discriminating ability, with high sensitivity and specificity. The BBS item 'pick up an object from the floor' was the best at screening fallers.

CONCLUSION: BBS was the most powerful functional test of the four in discriminating fallers from non-faller.

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