Background: The one-leg standing (OLS) test is one of the balance tests used to diagnose musculoskeletal ambulation disability symptom complex (MARS), a condition newly defined by three professional Japanese medical societies in 2006 to help identify the symptoms of motor organ deterioration and establish preventive strategies. Although many studies have used the OLS test, none has shown conclusively that the test can be used as a practical marker of frailty among elderly people, especially in community settings. Based on the type of epidemiological study -- i.e., descriptive epidemiology and analytical epidemiology (observational and intervention studies) -- we reviewed evidence on three fundamental issues related to the OLS test: (1) testing procedures and reference values; (2) the associations between the OLS time and negative events; (3) improvement of the OLS time by intervention. These issues are key to any discussion of whether the OLS test can be used as a practical marker for predicting frailty in community-dwelling elderly populations.
Methods: Articles were collected from MEDLINE databases using the search terms "one- leg standing" and the other names included in the same category.
Results: Because various procedures are used to carry out the OLS test, the measured values for the OLS time varied widely from study to study. Some observational studies showed that the OLS time is related to negative events such as falls, declines in activity of daily living, and other morbidity. OLS times could be improved by several interventions.
Conclusions: This review suggests that the OLS test can be a tool for predicting frailty in community-dwelling elderly populations. However, our review should be interpreted with caution because we did not confirm the evidence level of each of the studies we selected. Further research on this topic is needed.