Reliability Testing of the Balance Error Scoring System in Children Between the Ages of 5 and 14 : Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine

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Original Research

Reliability Testing of the Balance Error Scoring System in Children Between the Ages of 5 and 14

Hansen, Colby MD; Cushman, Dan MD; Chen, Wei PhD; Bounsanga, Jerry BS; Hung, Man PhD

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Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 27(1):p 64-68, January 2017. | DOI: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000293



Pediatric concussion is an extensive public health concern with a complex clinical presentation. Balance assessment has been well-studied in the adult population, but has been limited in children. We aimed to assess the reliability and minimum detectable change (MDC) of the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) in healthy children.


This prospective observational study included 373 healthy children aged 5 to 14. Interrater reliability was assessed by having 4 assessors review videos of 50 random subjects distributed evenly by age and sex across the entire cohort. Intrarater reliability was performed by having assessors review videos of other assessors' live evaluations. Test–retest reliability was obtained by comparing BESS scores as recorded live at the 2 separate time points by the same rater.


Local elementary and junior high schools.


Three hundred and seventy three healthy children between the ages of 5 and 14.


The BESS was performed on all children.

Main Outcome Measures: 

Intraclass Correlation Coefficients (ICCs) and MDC Scores.


The overall interrater ICC was determined to be 0.93 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.79-0.97] and intrarater ICC was 0.96 (95% CI, 0.95-0.97) with individual intrarater ICCs ranging between 0.69 and 0.99. The test–retest reliability was 0.90 (95% CI, 0.88-0.92). The MDCs were 9.6, 4.6, and 7.3 points at the 95% CIs for interrater, intrarater, and test–retest comparisons, respectively. No learning effect was seen.


The BESS demonstrates excellent reliability in the pediatric population without evidence of a learning effect.

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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