• Test Your Balance

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Balance may be improved with exercises that strengthen the ankle, knee, and hip muscles and with exercises that improve the function of the vestibular (balance) system. A simple assessment of your current balance can be done at home.

    Do not attempt to do this test alone-make sure that you have someone next to you to decrease the potential risk of falling.

    Perform this test standing with a counter surface in front of you:

    1. Stand tall, wearing flat, closed shoes, with your arms folded across your chest. Keep your eyes open, focus on an object in front of you, raise one leg, bending the knee about 45 degrees, and start a stopwatch.

    2. Remain on one leg, stopping the watch immediately if you uncross your arms, tilt sideways more than 45 degrees, move the leg you are standing on, or touch the raised leg to the floor.

    3. Repeat this test with the other leg.

    4. Compare your performance to normal results for various ages:

    • 20 to 59 years old (28 to 29 seconds)
    • 60 to 69 years (27 seconds)
    • 70 to 79 years (15 seconds)
    • 80 and older (6 seconds)

    Further Reading

    Rubenstein LZ. Falls in older people: epidemiology, risk factors, and strategies for prevention. Age Ageing. 2006;35:Suppl2:ii37-ii41. Free Article

    COL Barbara A. Springer, PT, PhD, OCS, SCS; COL Raul Marin, MD; Tamara Cyhan, RN, BSN; CPT Holly Roberts, MPT, GCS; MAJ Norman W. Gill, PT, DSc, OCS, FAAOMPT. Normative values for the unipedal stance test with eyes open and closed. J Geriatr PhysTher. 2007;30:8-15. Article Summary on PubMed