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Age Ageing. 1982 Feb;11(1):11-6.

The relationship of postural sway in standing to the incidence of falls in geriatric subjects.


A double-blind study was undertaken to determine the relationship (if one exits) between the extent of postural sway in standing of individual elderly subjects and their frequency of falling. A total of 205 subjects were studied; their average age was 81.8 years. Thirty per cent of the men, and 46% of the women, had one or more falls; the proportion of all subjects with one or more falls was 42%. The average speed of sway was significantly greater (P less than 0.05) for those who fell one or more times in a year than for those who did not fall. In this group of institutionalized elderly, there was no sex-related difference in the mean speed of sway; moreover, no age-related trend was demonstrated by the regression of mean speed upon age for all subjects. The mean speed of sway even for the non-fallers was found to be greater than that measured in a sample of non-institutional elderly subjects studied in the past. Thus, mean speed of postural sway was found to be only of statistical value for determining the risk of falling among these institutionalized elderly. We found postural sway to be an indicator of a tendency to fall, but the difference was less than might have been expected. No trend of increasing postural sway correlating with the increased frequency of falls was found.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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