The Use of Posturography in Investigating the Risk of Falling in Frail or Prefrail Older People with Diabetes

J Frailty Aging. 2020;9(1):44-50. doi: 10.14283/jfa.2019.27.


Background: In older people, diabetes is associated with an increased risk of falls and frailty. The value of using posturography for evaluating the risk of falling is unclear. In theory, a time-scale analysis should increase the metrological properties of the posturography assessment.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine which posturographic parameters can be used to identify fall-risk patients in a frail diabetic older population and to assess their interest in comparison to usual clinical trials for gait and balance.

Design: This is a prospective observational cohort.

Settings: frail or pre-frail diabetic patients, in Bordeaux, France.

Participants: 84 patients were included in the study (mean age 80.09 years, 64.5% of men).Criteria for inclusion were: age over 70 years, diabetes mellitus for over 2 years, and at least one of the Fried's frailty criteria.

Measurements: Gait and balance assessments were undertaken at baseline: Static posturography, the timed up and go test, short physical performance battery, and (gait) walking speed. Raw data from posturography were used for wavelet analysis. Data on self reported new falls were collected prospectively during 6 months.

Results: The posturography parameter most useful was area of 90% confidence ellipse of statokinesigram (COP90area): area under the ROC curve AUC = 0.617 (95% CI, 0.445-0.789) and OR=1.003 (95%CI 1.000-1.005) p =0.05. The optimum clinical test was the time to walk over 4m AUC=0.735 (95%CI, 0.587-0.882) and OR=1.42 (95%CI 1.08-1.87) p= 0.013.

Conclusion: Posturography has limited utility for assessment of falls risk in frail older people with diabetes. Gait and balance clinical assessments such as walking speed continue to retain their value.

Keywords: Diabetes; evaluation; falls; frailty; posturography.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods