Are Scores on Balance Screening Tests Associated with Mobility in Older Adults?

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Abstract

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 195 community dwelling participants (mean age 80.9 years, range 65 –103 years). Participants performed tests of static (tandem stance) and dynamic (360° 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 < 1.0 m/s, ≥ 1.0 m/s), and timed chair rise (dichotomized to ≤ 13.6 s, > 13.6 s). Faster 360° 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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