How to measure balance in clinical practice. A systematic review of the psychometrics and clinical utility of measures of balance activity for neurological conditions

Clin Rehabil. 2009 Sep;23(9):824-40. doi: 10.1177/0269215509335018. Epub 2009 Aug 5.


Objective: To identify psychometrically robust and clinically feasible measurement tools of balance activity in people with neurological conditions to recommend for use in clinical practice.

Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PEDro and AMED.

Review methods: Independent reviewers selected and extracted data from articles that assessed the reliability, validity, sensitivity to change and clinical utility of measures of balance activity in adult neurological conditions. Quality assessment was based on Jorstad et al. Measures with 'good' psychometrics and > or =9/10 clinical utility scores were recommended.

Results: Nineteen measurement tools were selected. Of these, the Brunel Balance Assessment, Berg Balance Scale, Trunk Impairment Scale, arm raise and forward reach tests in sitting and standing, weight shift, step/tap and step-up tests reached the required standards and are usable in clinical practice. The Brunel Balance Assessment and its associated functional performance tests have the additional advantages of being a hierarchical scale with established lack of redundancy.

Conclusion: The measurement tools identified above are psychometrically robust and feasible to use in clinical practice. Future objective measure development should consider the theoretical construct of the measure, the minimal detectable change and use in clinical populations other than stroke.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination
  • Postural Balance*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Task Performance and Analysis*