Changes in sensory organization test scores with age

Age Ageing. 1996 Jan;25(1):39-44. doi: 10.1093/ageing/25.1.39.


The goals of this study were to collect normative data on asymptomatic, ambulatory, community-dwelling adults on a standard diagnostic test of vestibular function in balance and to determine if their responses differ significantly from younger adults. Subjects were divided into four age groups, 18-44 years (young), 45-69 years (middle-aged), 70-79 (old), and 80-89 (elderly). Subjects were seen in the neurotologic diagnostic laboratory at a tertiary care facility. Their dynamic balance was tested under a variety of sensory conditions using the EquiTest (NeuroCom), a standard diagnostic test. The data from one subtest, the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) were evaluated. These data showed significant age-associated declines in overall score and changes in movement strategy. These results suggest that those parts of the vestibular system involved with balance have age-related declines through the end of the life span, even in asymptomatic people, and that these changes do not level off but continue into the ninth decade. Therefore, when elderly people are evaluated for balance disorders age-appropriate norms should be used. These results also suggest that declines in motor performance on laboratory tests are not directly related to reduced independence in essential activities of daily living in elderly people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Vestibular Function Tests