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Normative Data for Common Clinical Neurological Tests in the Young-Old, Middle-Old and Old-Old

1 May 1999


The purpose of this study was. to obtain normal values on ten tests of balance and coordination. The paucity of normal data comparing the performance of young-old, middle-old, and old-old inspired us to add to the pre-existing pool of data collected by Gilroy et al,1 We compared balance performance between gender and age groups. Additional purposes were to help define testing procedures and ceiling times for the tests.

Data from eighty-five subjects was added to a pre-existing pool of data from 91 subjects obtained by Gilroy et al, for a total of 177.1 All subjects were independent community-dwelling individuals 65 years and older. Subjects were grouped into the. following categories by age and gender: young-old (65-74), middle-old (75-84), and old-old (85+). All subjects were able to ambulate without a walker for at least five minutes, and were without central nervous system or vestibular disorders that affect balance. Subjects were recruited at retirement centers, churches, and senior athletic programs via word of mouth and flyers. Subjects completed an informed consent form and a questionnaire on fall history and activity level before being tested.

Static standing balance was tested with the following tests: normal Romberg (NR), sharpened Romberg (SR), and one leg stance (OLST), all in eyes open (EO) and eyes closed CEC) conditions. Coordination was tested by the Heel to Knee test CHTK) right and left and alternating toe tapping (ATT) slow and fast. The timed balance tests did not exceed two minutes and the toe tapping tests did not exceed 30 seconds. Number of deviations of the heel from the shin were recorded for the HTK test right and left. Best times were used for data analysis.

Most results of the standing balance tests indicated a significant negative relationship with age. Males were able to maintain their balance linger than females on the SREO test. There was a significant negative relationship between age and perfromance on the HTK right and ATT fast coordination tests.


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