Unipedal stance testing as an indicator of fall risk among older outpatients

Author(s): Hurvitz EA1, Richardson JK, Werner RA, Ruhl AM, Dixon MR


Objective:To test the hypothesis that a decreased unipedal stance time (UST) is associated with a history of falling among older persons.

Design:Fifty-three subjects underwent a standardized history and physical examination and three trials of timed unipedal stance.

Setting:The electroneuromyography laboratories of tertiary care Veterans Administration and university hospitals.

Subjects:Ambulatory outpatients 50 years and older referred for electrodiagnostic studies.

Outcome measures:UST and fall histories during the previous year.

Results:Twenty subjects (38%) reported falling. Compared with the subjects who had not fallen, those who fell had a significantly shorter UST (9.6 [SD 11.6] vs 31.3 [SD 16.3] seconds, using the longest of the three trials, p < .00001). An abnormal UST (<30sec) was associated with an increased risk of having fallen on univariate analysis and in a regression model (odds ratio 108; 95% confidence interval 3.8, >100; p < .007). The sensitivity of an abnormal UST in the regression model was 91% and the specificity 75%. When UST was considered age was not a predictor of a history of falls.

Conclusions:UST of <30sec in an older ambulatory outpatient population is associated with a history of falling, while a UST of > or = 30sec is associated with a low risk of falling.

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