Identifying Balance Measures Most Likely to Identify Recent Falls

Robin E. Criter, Julie A. Honaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Falls sustained by older adults are an increasing health care issue. Early identification of those at risk for falling can lead to successful prevention of falls. Balance complaints are common among individuals who fall or are at risk for falling. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical utility of a multifaceted balance protocol used for fall risk screening, with the hypothesis that this protocol would successfully identify individuals who had a recent fall (within the previous 12 months). Methods: This is a retrospective review of 30 individuals who self-referred for a free fall risk screening. Measures included case history, Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale, modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction on Balance, Timed Up and Go test, and Dynamic Visual Acuity. Statistical analyses were focused on the ability of the test protocol to identify a fall within the past 12 months and included descriptive statistics, clinical utility indices, logistic regression, receiver operating characteristic curve, area under the curve analysis, effect size (Cohen d), and Spearman correlation coefficients. Results and Discussion: All individuals who self-referred for this free screening had current imbalance complaints, and were typically women (70%), had a mean age of 77.2 years, and had a fear of falling (70%). Almost half (46.7%) reported at least 1 lifetime fall and 40.0% within the past 12 months. Regression analysis suggested that the Timed Up and Go test was the most important indicator of a recent fall. A cutoff score of 12 or more seconds was optimal (sensitivity: 83.3%; specificity: 61.1%). Conclusions: Older adults with current complaints of imbalance have a higher rate of falls, fall-related injury, and fear of falling than the general community-dwelling public. The Timed Up and Go test is useful for determining recent fall history in individuals with imbalance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geriatric Physical Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • balance
  • falls
  • older adults
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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