2012, Volume 4, Issue 3

Proposal to use an obstructed timed “up & go” test to assess the risk of falling in healthy elderly individuals

Masanobu Uchiyama1, Shinichi Demura2

1Research and Education Center for Comprehensive Science, Akita Prefectural University
2Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Kanazawa University

Author for correspondence: Masanobu Uchiyama; Research and Education Center for Comprehensive Science, Akita Prefectural University; email: masanobu.uchiyama@gmail.com

DOI: 10.2478/v10131-012-0015-y

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Background: Obstacles are a common cause of falls. Mobility tests for healthy elderly that involve maneuvering over an obstacle have not been fully developed. We have shown that a small box placed on the walkway of a representative mobility test, the Timed Up & Go (TUG) for the frail elderly, influences the test performances of the healthy female elderly. However, the validity of this obstructed TUG (OTUG) as a fall risk assessment tool has not yet been clarified. This study examined the relationship between the OTUG and the fall risk for the healthy elderly.

Material/Methods: 66 healthy community-dwelling elderly and 19 healthy elderly persons living in a nursing home participated in the study. In the TUG, participants stood up from a chair, walked 3 m, turned around, walked back to the chair and sat down. In the OTUG, a box (height 5 cm, depth 10 cm) was placed at the midpoint of the walkway. Participants were instructed to step over it safely. Times required to perform the respective test were recorded. Fall risk scores, the required times (s) for the TUG and OTUG and difference ratios (OTUG/TUG x 100) (%) were analyzed.

Results: Correlations between fall risk and other mobility performances were all significant. However, the correlation between fall risk and the OTUG (r = 0.60) was significantly higher than that between fall risk and the TUG (r=0.49) (t=3.733, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Compared to the TUG, the OTUG is more valid for assessing the fall risk of community- dwelling healthy elderly

Key words: physical examination, accidental falls, gait, postural control, obstaclecrossing