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Sarcopenia in older adults is associated with static postural control, fear of falling and fall risk: A study of Romberg test.

Gait & Posture 2024 May 15
BACKGROUND: As a geriatric syndrome, sarcopenia may exacerbate static postural control and increase fall risk among older adults. The Romberg test, a simple method to assess static postural control, has the potential to predict fall, but has rarely been used to assess static postural control and fall risk in sarcopenic older adults.

RESEARCH QUESTION: How does sarcopenia increase fall risk by affecting static postural control?

METHODS: Forty-four older adults performed the Romberg test and were included for analyses. Romberg parameters, including Center of Pressure (CoP), Center of Mass (CoM) and Displacement Angle (DA), were collected under eyes-open/eyes-closed conditions. Sarcopenia was defined according to the Asian Working Group for Sarcopenia 2019 criteria. Fall risk was assessed using the Morse Elderly Fall Risk Assessment Scale (MFS), and fear of falling was evaluated using the Falls Efficacy Scale-International (FES-I). Multivariate linear regression models were conducted to examine the associations of sarcopenia with Romberg test parameters, fear of falling, and fall risk.

RESULTS: Sarcopenic older adults had higher scores of both fear of falling and fall risk (P<0.001 and =0.006, respectively), and worse static postural control parameters (P values ranging from <0.001-0.043) than healthy controls, demonstrated by the multivariate linear regression models. Most of the Romberg test parameters were significantly associated with fear of falling score, especially under eyes-closed condition, and fear of falling was further associated with higher fall risk score (β=0.90, P=0.001). Meanwhile, the presence of sarcopenia also significantly increased fall risk score (β=10.0, P<0.001).

SIGNIFICANCE: Sarcopenia may increase fall risk in older adults via worsen static postural control ability and increase fear of falling. Paying attention and making efforts to prevent sarcopenia may help to alleviate postural control dysfunction, decrease fear of falling, so as to reduce fall risk and prevent severe injuries caused by fall accidents.

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