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Assessment of clinical and laboratory tests in predicting risks of fall in the elderly

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Abstract

Introduction

Falls and unstable balance are multifactorial problems and rank high among serious clinical problems faced by the elderly. They are a cause of substantial rates of mortality and morbidity as unintentional injuries.

Aim of the work

The aim of the study was to explore the most common risk factors for falls in the elderly and to construct the most specific test battery including clinical and laboratory tests capable of determining risk for falls in the elderly.

Materials and methods

A 6-month prospective study was carried out on a sample of 30 elderly persons of age at least 60 years, reporting more than one fall within last 6 months. Detailed history on neuro-otological symptoms, previous falls, dizziness episodes, and symptoms of systemic disease or osteoarthritis was taken. Visual acuity, musculoskeletal examination, complete neurological examination, and a complete vestibular test battery in the form of the videonystagmography (VNG) test battery, vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials, and computerized dynamic posturography was performed. All participants underwent radiological diagnosis and grading of the osteoarthritic knee and hip. The mobility and gait screening protocol was used, which includes the timed up and go test (TUG), fall risk assessment screening tool (FRAST), and Dynamic Gait Index (DGI).

Results

Most patients suffered from peripheral vestibular dysfunction and the most frequent VNG abnormality was unilateral vestibular lesion. Radiological assessment of knee and hip osteoarthritis revealed 36.76% with grades II and III. Significant impairment of vision was found in 40% of the elderly. TUG test revealed high risk of falls in those elderly. In total, 20 participants revealed moderate or high risk for falls by FRAST. There was significant correlation between the number of falls and SOT tests (C5 and C6) together with adaptation tests reflecting vestibular pattern of dysfunction. Functional test of dynamic posturography revealed a highly significant correlation between limits of stability reaction time, movement velocity, and tandem of gait step and the number of falls. TUG showed a highly significant correlation in elderly people who experienced falls, whereas DGI showed only significant correlation and FRAST showed nonsignificant correlation. A highly significant correlation was found between SOT C5 and C6 scores and TUG and DGI with a weak correlation with FRAST. Vestibular-evoked myogenic potential asymmetry and unilateral canal paresis revealed nonsignificant results with all functional tests except DGI, which revealed a weak correlation with them. Analysis of variance test revealed that the vestibular dysfunction group is more vulnerable to falls than other groups.

Conclusion

The VNG test battery and computerized dynamic posturography in conjunction with stance tests in the elderly who complain of dizziness can identify those with high risk of a fall.

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Correspondence to Amr Gouda Shafik.

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Taha, H.M.O., Shafik, A.G. & Saber, N.Z. Assessment of clinical and laboratory tests in predicting risks of fall in the elderly. Egypt J Otolaryngol 28, 189–195 (2012). https://doi.org/10.7123/01.EJO.0000418007.87507.ca

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.7123/01.EJO.0000418007.87507.ca

Keywords

  • balance in elderly
  • falls
  • gait in elderly
  • vestibular tests