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Vol. 42, No. 4, 1996
Issue release date: 1996
Gerontology 1996;42:199–203

Simple Physiological and Clinical Tests for the Accurate Prediction of Falling in Older People

Lord S.R. · Clark R.D.
aPrince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Randwick, N.S.W., and bSt. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia

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A 1-year prospective study was conducted in an intermediate care institution to determine whether a combined assessment of physiological and clinical measures discriminates between elderly fallers and elderly nonfallers. Seventy persons aged between 72 and 96 years (mean 85.6), who were generally independent in activities of daily living, took part in the study, and 66 were available to follow-up. In the follow-up year, 24 subjects experienced no falls, 20 subjects fell one time only and 22 residents fell on two or more occasions. Discriminant analysis identified reaction time, body sway, quadriceps strength, tactile sensitivity, gait impairment, cognitive impairment, psychoactive drug use and age as the variables that significantly discriminated between subjects who experienced falls and those who did not. This procedure correctly classified 86% of subjects into faller and nonfaller groups. These findings suggest that an assessment that combines physiological and clinical factors provides excellent discrimination between elderly fallers and nonfallers.

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