Comparison of Older Adult Performance during the Functional-Reach and Limits-of-Stability Tests

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Despite widespread use of the functional-reach (FR) and limits-of-stability (LOS) tests, comparisons of postural strategies and postural limits for these tests have not been previously reported. The purpose of this study was to compare postural strategies as determined by cross-correlation analyses of trunk and lower leg angular displacements and postural limits as assessed by maximum center-of-gravity (COG) excursions as older adults at low fall risk completed the FR and LOS tests. Fourteen older adults completed three FR and LOS trials while standing on a Balance Master® force platform. Results indicated that despite relatively similar instructions to reach or lean as far as possible without losing balance or altering the base of support, their performance differed with regard to postural strategies employed and maximum COG excursions produced. These findings suggest that because of differences in task constraints, FR and LOS tests should not be used interchangeably.

The authors are with the Dept. of Movement Science, Gordon College, Wenham, MA 01984.