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Mary A. Murphy, Sharon L. Olson, Elizabeth J. Protas and Averell R. Overby

Fifty community-dwelling elders were screened and followed for 14 months. Sixteen experienced falls and 34 did not. The screening variables consisted of age, the Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance, the Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment for Balance, functional reach, the Physical Performance Test, and the following timed tests: floor transfer; 5-step test; 5 chair stands; tandem, semitandem, and side-by-side stance; penny pick-up; 360° turn; 50-ft walk; and 5-min walk. Data analysis and chi-squared or t tests were performed for each variable to determine significant differences between groups. Correlations, sensitivity, and specificity were calculated, and a stepwise discriminant analysis was conducted to determine which significant variables best predicted falls. Discriminant analysis determined that the floor transfer and then the 50-ft walk predicted falls in community-dwelling elders, correctly classifying 95.5% of participants. Prediction for falls was 81.8%, and for no falls, 100%. The timed floor transfer and 50-ft walk were the most discriminating measures to identify potential fallers.