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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 9;8(8):e70981. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070981. eCollection 2013.

Force-controlled balance perturbations associated with falls in older people: a prospective cohort study.

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1
Neuroscience Research Australia and University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. d.sturnieks@neura.edu.au

Abstract

Balance recovery from an unpredictable postural perturbation can be a challenging task for many older people and poor recovery could contribute to their risk of falls. This study examined associations between responses to unpredictable perturbations and fall risk in older people. 242 older adults (80.0 ± 4.4 years) underwent assessments of stepping responses to multi-directional force-controlled waist-pull perturbations. Participants returned monthly falls calendars for the subsequent 12 months. Future falls were associated with lower force thresholds for stepping in the posterior and lateral but not anterior directions. Those with lower posterior force thresholds for stepping were 68% more likely to fall at home than those with higher force thresholds for stepping. These results suggest that amount of force that can be withstood following an unpredictable balance perturbation predicts future falls in community-dwelling older adults. Perturbations in the posterior direction best discriminated between future fallers and non-fallers.

PMID:
23951059
PMCID:
PMC3739780
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0070981
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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