Author(s): Maki BE, Holliday PJ, Topper AK
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Abstract A cross-sectional study was performed to investigate the association between fear of falling and postural performance in the elderly. One hundred ambulatory and independent volunteers (aged 62-96) were subjected to five types of balance tests: (a) spontaneous postural sway, (b) induced anterior-posterior sway, (c) induced medial-lateral sway, (d) one-leg stance, and (e) a clinical balance assessment scale. Pseudorandom platform motions were used in the induced-sway tests. The subjects were classified into both "faller"/"nonfaller" and "fear"/"no-fear" categories, to allow the influence of fear of falling and falling history to be separated in the analyses. Subjects who expressed a fear of falling were found to exhibit significantly poorer performance in blindfolded spontaneous-sway tests and in eyes-open, one-leg stance tests. The clinical scale was the only balance measure that showed a significant association with retrospective, self-reported falling history. We could not ascertain whether the fear of falling affected balance-test performance in an artifactual manner, or whether the fear and poorer performance were related to a true deterioration in postural control. Until this issue can be resolved, balance-test performance should be interpreted with caution when testing apprehensive individuals. Furthermore, studies of postural control and falling should allow for the potentially confounding influence of fear of falling.
This article was published in J Gerontol
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research