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Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e3182048006
Research Reports

Minimum Detectable Change of the Berg Balance Scale and Dynamic Gait Index in Older Persons at Risk for Falling

Romero, Sergio PhD1,3; Bishop, Mark D. PhD, PT2; Velozo, Craig A. PhD, OTR/L1,3; Light, Kathye PhD, PT2

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Abstract

Background: The Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and the Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) are often the central components of the physical therapy evaluation to identify older adults at risk of falling.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to use the standard error of measurement to investigate the minimal detectable change associated with these clinical instruments.

Methods: A sample of 42 community dwellers (older than 65 years) with a history of falls or near falls was evaluated with the BBS and DGI. Evaluations were videotaped and later rescored by 2 experienced physical therapists.

Results: The mean initial BBS was 39 points (SD = 8.9, range 17–53). Rescored mean value was 40 points (SD = 8.8, range 19–55). The DGI mean initial value was 12.9 (SD = 4.5, range 3–21), and the rescored mean was 12.7 (SD = 4.6, range 4–22). MDC95% values were 6.5 BBS and 2.9 DGI points, respectively.

Conclusion: These results suggest that a change of 6.5 point in the BBS and 2.9 points in the DGI is necessary to be 95% confident that genuine change in function has occurred between 2 assessments. This information is important for assessing and monitoring progress and guiding treatment for community dwellers at high risk of falling.

Copyright © 2011 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association

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