Unipedal stance testing as an indicator of fall risk among older outpatients

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2000 May;81(5):587-91. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(00)90039-x.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that a decreased unipedal stance time (UST) is associated with a history of falling among older persons.

Design: Fifty-three subjects underwent a standardized history and physical examination and three trials of timed unipedal stance.

Setting: The electroneuromyography laboratories of tertiary care Veterans Administration and university hospitals.

Subjects: Ambulatory outpatients 50 years and older referred for electrodiagnostic studies.

Outcome measures: UST and fall histories during the previous year.

Results: Twenty subjects (38%) reported falling. Compared with the subjects who had not fallen, those who fell had a significantly shorter UST (9.6 [SD 11.6] vs 31.3 [SD 16.3] seconds, using the longest of the three trials, p < .00001). An abnormal UST (<30sec) was associated with an increased risk of having fallen on univariate analysis and in a regression model (odds ratio 108; 95% confidence interval 3.8, >100; p < .007). The sensitivity of an abnormal UST in the regression model was 91% and the specificity 75%. When UST was considered age was not a predictor of a history of falls.

Conclusions: UST of <30sec in an older ambulatory outpatient population is associated with a history of falling, while a UST of > or = 30sec is associated with a low risk of falling.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Postural Balance*
  • Radiculopathy / diagnosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight-Bearing*