Medio-lateral Sway, Strength and Gait Speed for Elderly Fallers and Non-fallers – Using HUR iBalance Testing Equipment
Frank Borg, Gerd Laxaback, Magnus Bjorkgren
University of Jyvaskyla, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Health Sciences Unit
Background: We describe a retrospective study on balance, strength and gait speed for elderly fallers and non-fallers. The emphasis is on diagnostic assessment of fallers for preventing future falls.
Methods: Participants (fallers: n = 37; non-fallers: n = 58) were recruited among community dwelling home health care clients aged 65 years or older, and were classified as fallers (F) and non-fallers (NF) based on their fall history. A comprehensive assessment protocol was designed involving an interview, Berg Balance Scale (BBS), force plate balance tests, visual gait analysis, and leg strength measurements.
Results: An increased risk of falling was associated with a slower gait and an increased lateral sway during provoked standing. The BBS also differed between the groups. Slower gait was correlated with weaker leg extension and hip abduction.
Interpretation: The balance test on foam, leg strength test, and the gait speed measurement can be useful in characterizing fall risk persons. They can be employed for targeting and assessing the progress of fall prevention training. The balance test suggests that the difference between fallers and non-fallers can best be revealed by tests that are sufficiently challenging. The degrees of challenge can be increased by adding “stressors.”