Correlations between Functional Balance and Postural Sway in a Geriatric Population: A Pilot Study


1Jordan, R., 1Hertz, J., 1Kieffer, H.S., 2Sollenberger, B. 1Messiah College, Grantham, PA and 2CPRS Physical Therapy, Elizabethtown, PA.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare various clinical measures of balance and postural sway in the elderly population. Methods: Thirteen independently living subjects (4 males and 9 females, age =83.5±10.66 and 81.3±7.68 years, respectively) participated in a quasi-experimental, comparative study. The subjects completed a series of functional balance protocols and questionnaires that included the Falls Efficacy Scale (FES), Stride Length (SL) and Dynamic Gait Index (DGI). In addition, a static standing eyes-open protocol was completed using an AMTI Forceplate and ACCUSWAY balance software to measure center of pressure (COP) deviations of each subject during a standard two-foot open stance. The variables of COP deviancy included total path length and maximum velocity in anterior-posterior (Vymax) and medial-lateral (Vxmax) planes. Multiple Pearson’s Product Correlation Coefficients were run to assess the relationship between functional measures. In addition, correlations were also run between the functional and static measures of balance. Results: High positive correlations were found among functional balance measures, ranging from 0.72 to 0.838. However, low correlations ranging from 0.35 to 0.47 were found between the functional and static measures. Conclusion: The high correlations between functional measures indicate that the FES, SL and DGI have similar predictive abilities for assessing dynamic balance. In contrast, the low correlations between the functional and static tests suggest that different aspects of balance are measured. The low predictability found between functional balance and static measures indicates that future research should investigate the utility of conducting static tests that minimize the base of support and challenge the control of COP.

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