Balance confidence and turning behavior as a measure of fall risk

Rania Almajid, Rahul Goel, Carole Tucker, Emily Keshner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Diminished balance confidence increases the risk of a fall and falls that occur when turning during walking are associated with an eightfold increase in hip fractures compared to when walking in a straight trajectory. Although an effect of aging on turning is revealed, the role of gender during turning is not yet clear. Research Question: How can balance confidence impact turning behavior in younger, middle-aged, and older men and women? Methods: This cross-sectional study included 22 young adults (11 women), 13 middle-aged adults (9 women), and 13 older adults (6 women). Participants ranked their balance confidence using the activities-specific balance confidence (ABC) scale and completed two different turns: Turn1 (around the cone) and Turn2 (turn to sit). Measures obtained for each turn included: turning time, step count, and peak trunk velocities (PTV) in pitch, yaw, and roll. Results: In Turn1, older adults exhibited an increase in turning time and step count relative to younger adults (both p < 0.03). In Turn2, older adults showed an increase in turning time and roll PTV compared to the middle-aged group (both p < 0.02). Lower scores in ABC were significantly correlated with an increase in Turn1 time (p < 0.001) and step count (p = 0.04) in middle-aged and older adults, respectively. Bivariate correlations revealed that women with lower scores on the ABC took more time to complete both turns (both p = 0.01). Significance: Older adults demonstrated longer turning time, more steps, and higher roll PTV while turning that were associated with decreased balance confidence scores. The association between decreased balance confidence and turning kinematics implies a relationship between turning and increased fall risk. These results suggest that testing for fall risk requires tests of activities that are performed outside traditional clinical settings and gait laboratories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Fear of falling
  • Gender effects
  • TUG
  • motor behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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