Monday, September 12, 2011

Falls in the elderly: How to assess their balance Part 2

The next part of these series of blogs for the elderly is another type of test that does not involve walking.

It is called the Four Test Balance Scale. A study done by Melinda Gardner, David Buchner, M. Clare Robertson and A. John Campbell from the Journal Age and Ageing 2001: 30: 77-83, Titled Practical implementation of an exercise-based falls prevention programme, showed how to do this test.

It requires an individual to stand on 4 different foot positions of increasing difficulty without an assistive device. The one being assessed can be helped out to assume the position but no help can be provided once the test starts per position.

The sequence of the tests are:
1. Standing Feet together
2. Standing Semi-tandem (one foot is halfway in front of the other but still close together)
3. Standing Tandem position (one foot is in front of the other with the heel of the front foot touching the toe of the back foot)
4. One leg standing (One tested chooses which leg to stand on)

Picture reference was taken from the Journal mentioned above. Click on the link. (PDF file)
Each test should be completed for at least 10 seconds. Inability to assume or maintain that position is equivalent to a failed test stage. The one being tested should also be on bare feet.

Unlike the initial Timed "Up and Go" test which includes walking, this test is only done in a standing position. Again this give you an idea if your elderly love one already has possible problems in balance that need to be assessed by your family physician or your Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist.

For those who like to view a video of this test, it can be seen at Vimeo. However I believe it is in German language but at least you know how it is done.

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