Friday, September 9, 2011

Falls in the Elderly: How to Assess their Balance Part 1

Last August 2011, I was asked to give a short seminar on fall prevention in the elderly by Home Health Care. It gave me a chance to provide information on helping the allied medical and medical audience together with caregivers on taking care of the elderly. So to start this set of blogs, I initially asked myself, if I am taking care of someone in this age group, how can I know if he or she has problems in balance or mobility?

George F. Fuller, COL, MC, USA from White House Medical Clinic, Washington D.C. provided an article under American Family Physician that one way to screen the elderly is by noting if they have a history of fall within the last 6 months. If an elderly has more than 2x of occurrence of fall within 6 months an evaluation is warranted for any possible underlying problem. This may already denote a declining physical and physiological status.

Now if you like to test the mobility of an elderly, an easy way to do it is the Timed "Up and Go" Test. Wherein an individual is timed from doing this test. The patient s
its on a standard armchair, stands up and walks for 3 meters (10 feet), turns around and return to a sitting position.

The individual is freely mobile if done in < 10 s
econds; mostly independent if done within 11 to 20 seconds; Variable mobility if within 20 to 30 seconds and Impaired mobility if > 30 seconds. This will help you gauge if your elderly patient or love one has impaired mobility already.

Reference for Timed "Up and Go" Test is found on Table 6 of the link from Sir George Fuller's article under American Family Physician. (Click on the link above)

Next topic will be another way to test standing balance.


  1. Hi Doc! Very informative article.I'd just like to clarify if TUG is considered as a dynamic standing balance test? Thank you!

  2. Hi Joyce,
    In principle Yes since it assess not only the standing function of an elderly but also the balance during motion which is walking, turning back and sitting down again. Hope this helps.

  3. Keithlyn Ramirez-ManayaoOctober 11, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    Thanks Doc M for this. Looking forward for more articles (and to be in your seminars at SJD, hehe) Any new trends on stroke rehab? Thank you very much. Keep up the good work!

  4. Hi Keithlyn, your most welcome and hope it will help you in your work. If you find future articles that may help your patients, just point them to this blog. God Bless!


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