OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to compare elderly non-fallers and fallers for differences in the following: (1) mean functional reach (FR), (2) mean anterior limits of stability (LOS), (3) mean posterior LOS, and (4) mean sensory organization test (SOT) composite score. The following correlations were tested for significance separately in the sample of non-fallers and the sample of fallers: (1) FR and anterior LOS, (2) FR and posterior LOS, (3) FR and SOT composite score, (4) anterior LOS and the SOT composite score, and (5) posterior LOS and the SOT composite score.

DESIGN: Two group comparison design.

SETTING: A university physical therapy research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS: The 25 participants recruited for this study included 15 elderly non-fallers and 10 idiopathic fallers.

MEASUREMENTS: Outcome measures included FR and forceplate measures from the LOS test and the SOT. The forceplate measures, obtained using the NeuroCom Smart® Balance Master system, included maximum end point excursion for anterior, posterior, right, and left movements for the LOS test and a composite score for the SOT. The composite score consisted of sway area using six different sensory conditions with eyes open and closed.

RESULTS:There was no significant difference in mean FR distance between elderly non-fallers and fallers. FR distance did not correlate with anterior displacement on the LOS test. There was a significant difference in mean composite score on the SOT between non-fallers and fallers as well as a significant positive correlation between the composite score and anterior displacement on the LOS test for fallers. Age showed a significant negative correlation with the composite score for both non-fallers and fallers.

CONCLUSION: The results suggested that FR measures do not appear to differentiate non-fallers from fallers, as they both attained nearly the same mean FR distance. In contrast, this study demonstrated that using the SOT protocol can differentiate non-fallers from fallers for balance impairment. Caution should be used when interpreting information from the FR test in determining a balance-impaired population.

LLU Discipline

Physical Therapy


Physical Therapy Sciences


School of Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Everett B. Lohman III

Second Advisor

Mark A. Hoffman

Third Advisor

W. William Hughes

Fourth Advisor

Grenith J. Zimmerman

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Equilibrium -- in old age; Accidental Falls -- in old age; Risk Factors -- in old age; Posture; Frail Elderly.



Page Count

vi; 62

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives