Are scores on balance screening tests associated with mobility in older adults?

Tiffany E Shubert, Lori A Schrodt, Vicki S Mercer, Jan Busby-Whitehead, Carol A Giuliani
Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy 2006, 29 (1): 35-9

PURPOSE: To examine associations between measures of static and dynamic balance and performance of mobility tasks in older adults.

METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis from 95 community dwelling participants (mean age 80.9 years, range 65 -03 years). Participants performed tests of static (tandem stance) and dynamic (360 degrees turn) balance and mobility (walking speed and timed chair rise). Associations among balance and mobility measures were examined using correlation and logistic regression.

RESULTS: Static and dynamic balance were moderately associated (r = -.462). Relationships between dynamic balance and mobility were stronger than those between static balance and mobility. The association between dynamic balance and walking speed was particularly strong (r = -.701 ). Using logistic regression, age, and balance performance were significant predictors for outcomes of walking speed (dichotomized to < .0 m/s, >/= .0 m/s), and timed chair rise (dichotomized to </= 3.6 s, > 3.6 s). Faster 360 degrees turn times were independently associated with faster walking speed and chair rise time.

CONCLUSION: Mobility tasks require both dynamic and static balance. As falls are a major health risk for older adults, including brief assessments of dynamic and static balance in the examination of older adults provides valuable information about physical function and mobility.

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