The relationship between balance and falls: a prospective study
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Introduction: Falls due to poor balance are a serious health issue for older adults; yet, identifying those at risk for future falls is a clinical challenge. Clinical balance tests and traditional or complexity-based measures of standing postural control may measure different aspects of balance. This prospective, population based cohort study hypothesized these balance measures may offer greater insights in distinguishing those who experience future falls. Methods: The MOBILIZE Boston study is a prospective, population-based study of 764 elderly participants tracked for falls following a baseline visit. In this analysis, baseline measures of balance were used to predict the likelihood of all falls, indoor falls, and outdoor falls using least square mean models. Results: The distinction between indoor and outdoor recurrent fallers was necessary to capture differences in balance measures. Whereas outdoor fallers demonstrated significantly faster walking speed, indoor falls demonstrated worse balance and postural control as measured by clinical and trad itional sway measures. Discussion: Outdoor fallers do not appear to suffer from balance deficits. Indoor fallers, on the other hand, exhibit significant balance and postural control disturbances and may potentially benefit from balance-related interventions.
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