Responsiveness of the Balance Evaluation Systems Test (BESTest) in People With Subacute Stroke

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Abstract

Background

The reliability and convergent validity of the Balance Evaluation Systems Test (BESTest) in people with subacute stroke have been established, but its responsiveness to rehabilitation has not been examined.

Objective

The study objective was to compare the responsiveness of the BESTest with those of other clinical balance tools in people with subacute stroke.

Design

This was a prospective cohort study.

Methods

Forty-nine people with subacute stroke (mean age=57.8 years, SD=11.8) participated in this study. Five balance measures—the BESTest, the Mini-BESTest, the Berg Balance Scale, the Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke Patients, and the Community Balance and Mobility Scale (CB&M)—were used to measure balance performance before and after rehabilitation or before discharge from the hospital, whichever came first. The internal responsiveness of each balance measure was classified with the standardized response mean (SRM); changes in Berg Balance Scale scores of greater than 7 were used as the external standard for determining the external responsiveness. Analysis of the receiver operating characteristic curve was used to determine the accuracy and cutoff scores for identifying participants with balance improvement.

Results

Participants received 13.7 days (SD=9.3, range=5–44) of physical therapy rehabilitation. The internal responsiveness of all balance measures, except for the CB&M, was high (SRM=0.9–1.2). The BESTest had a higher SRM than the Mini-BESTest and the CB&M, indicating that the BESTest was more sensitive for detecting balance changes than the Mini-BESTest and the CB&M. In addition, compared with other balance measures, the BESTest had no floor, ceiling, or responsive ceiling effects. The results also indicated that the percentage of participants with no change in scores after rehabilitation was smaller with the BESTest than with the Mini-BESTest and the CB&M. With regard to the external responsiveness, the BESTest had higher accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and posttest accuracy than the Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke Patients and the CB&M for identifying participants with balance improvement. Changes in BESTest scores of 10% or more indicated changes in balance performance.

Limitations

A limitation of this study was the difference in the time periods between the first and the second assessments across participants.

Conclusions

The BESTest was the most sensitive scale for assessing balance recovery in participants with subacute stroke because of its high internal and external responsiveness and lack of floor and ceiling effects.

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