A Prospective Study of Posturography in Normal Older People

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OBJECTIVE:To follow posturographic measurements over time in a group of normal older subjects to see if sway increases with aging and if sway is greater in those with deteriorating balance and falls.SUBJECTS:Seventy-two community-dwelling older people (age range 79-91 years), who initially had normal neurological evaluations, were followed with three yearly follow-up examinations.MEASUREMENTS:Amplitude and velocity of sway on static and dynamic posturography, Tinetti gait and balance score, reports of falls.RESULTS:Velocity of sway on dynamic tests increased significantly during the 3 years of follow-up. The percentage increase in sway was about the same in the anterior-posterior and medial-lateral directions and with eyes open and eyes closed. Subjects with low Tinetti scores had higher sway amplitude and velocity, particularly on dynamic tests, but no measure of sway was significantly different in those who reported falls compared with those who did not report falls.CONCLUSIONS:Sway increases in normal subjects over time, and sway is greater in older subjects with deteriorating balance compared with those with normal balance. Sway was not greater in those who fell compared with those who did not fall, probably because falls are highly dependent on individual behavior.

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