Trunk repositioning errors are increased in balance-impaired older adults

Allon Goldberg, Manuel Enrique Hernandez, Neil B. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Controlling the flexing trunk is critical in recovering from a loss of balance and avoiding a fall. To investigate the relationship between trunk control and balance in older adults, we measured trunk repositioning accuracy in young and balance-impaired and unimpaired older adults. Methods. Young adults (N = 8, mean age 24.3 years) and two groups of community-dwelling older adults defined by unipedal stance time (UST)-a balance-unimpaired group (UST > 30 seconds, N = 7, mean age 73.9 years) and a balance-impaired group (UST < 5 seconds, N = 8, mean age 79.6 years)-were tested in standing trunk control ability by reproducing a ∼30° trunk flexion angle under three visual-surface conditions: eyes opened and closed on the floor, and eyes opened on foam. Errors in reproducing the angle were defined as trunk repositioning errors (TREs). Clinical measures related to balance, trunk extensor strength, and self-reported disability were obtained. Results. TREs were significantly greater in the balance-impaired group than in the other groups, even when controlling for trunk extensor strength and body mass. In older adults, there were significant correlations between TREs and three clinical measures of balance and fall risk, UST and maximum step length (-0.65 to -0.75), and Timed Up & Go score (0.55), and between TREs and age (0.63-0.76). In each group TREs were similar under the three visual-surface conditions. Test-retest reliability for TREs was good to excellent (intraclass correlation coefficients ≥0.74). Conclusions. Older balance-impaired adults have larger TREs, and thus poorer trunk control, than do balance-unimpaired older individuals. TREs are reliable and valid measures of underlying balance impairment in older adults, and may eventually prove to be useful in predicting the ability to recover from losses of balance and to avoid falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1310-1314
Number of pages5
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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