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Comparison of Standard and Modified Berg Balance Scale Protocols for Community-Dwelling Adults 75 Years and Older

1 May 1999


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to determine if the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), a tool used to assess balance and fall risk in the elderly, could be modified to eliminate the first 5 items and still produce an accurate assessment of balance capabilities. Our intent was to reduce the time required to administer the BBS without compromising its usefulness.

Subjects: Subjects were 54 community-dwelling elders, ages 75 to 96 years (mean = 83.04 years).

Procedure: Subjects completed a demographic questionnaire and the BSS.

Results: The ICC for interrater reliability was .95, which allowed the use of mean BBS scores in discriminant analysis. Both the standard and modified BSS scores correctly predicted 39 subjects as non-fallers and 8 as fallers. An 87% correlation was found between the scale's fall prediction and subjects' report of fall history. There was no difference in specificity or sensitivity between predictions based upon scores from the standard and modified BBS protocols. We conclude that physical therapists can eliminate the first 5 items on the BBS without compromising the accuracy of the BBS to predict falls.


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