Content » Vol 51, Issue 1

Original report

Usefulness of an unstable board balance test to accurately identify community-dwelling elderly individuals with a history of falls

Kazunori Akizuki , Yuki Echizenya, Tatsuya Kaneno, Yukari Ohashi
Physical Therapy, Kobe International University, , 658-0032 Kobe, Japan. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2504


Objective: To determine the usefulness of an un-stable board balance test in identifying a fall history among high-functioning community-dwelling elderly individuals.
Design: Case-control study.
Subjects: Sixty-one community-dwelling elderly aged ≥ 65 years and having the capacity to walk independently without an assistive device.
Methods: Subjects completed 3 balance performance tests: the Unstable Board Balance Test, Functional Reach Test, and Timed Up and Go. For analysis, subjects were classified as fallers or non-fallers based on the history of falls over the previous year, and performance outcomes were compared between the 2 groups. Subjects classified as fallers were then matched 1:1 with non-fallers (for sex, age, body weight and height), and the optimal cut-off score and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for each test were calculated.
Results: Functional reach test and Timed Up and Go did not reliably discriminate between fallers and non-fallers. In contrast, the score on the unstable board balance test was significantly different between the 2 groups (p = 0. 040). Among all 3 tests, AUC was largest for the unstable board balance test (0. 78), with superior sensitivity (0. 67) and specificity (0. 87).
Conclusion: For high-functioning elderly subjects, the unstable board balance test was useful in discriminating between fallers and non-fallers.

Lay Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the ability of an Unstable Board Balance Test to discriminate fall history in high-functioning community-dwelling elderly people. Subjects underwent an Unstable Board Balance Test, a Functional Reach Test (FRT), Timed Up and Go (TUG) measurement, and body height and body weight measurement. The age of subjects was determined and they were asked whether they had fallen within the past year. FRT and TUG did not differ significantly between fallers and non-fallers, but the Unstable Board Balance Test did show a significant difference between groups. We found that, in high-functioning elderly subjects, the Unstable Board Balance Test was able to detect elderly people with a fall history more accurately than either FRT or TUG.


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