Characteristics of balance control in older persons who fall with injury - A prospective study Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective Older adults who have recently fallen demonstrate increased postural sway compared with non-fallers. However, the differences in postural control between older adults who were seriously injured (SI) as a result of a fall, compared with those who fell but were not injured (NSI) and non-fallers (NFs), has not been investigated. The objective of the present study was to investigate the underlying postural control mechanisms related to injuries resulting from a fall. Methods Both traditional postural sway measures of foot center-of-pressure (CoP) displacements and fractal measures, the Stabilogram-Diffusion Analysis (SDA), were used to characterize the postural control. One hundred older adults aged 65–91 years were tested during narrow base upright stance in eyes closed condition; falls were monitored over a 1-year period. Results Forty-nine older adults fell during the 1-year follow-up, 13 were seriously injured as a result of a fall (SI), 36 were not injured (NSI), and 49 were non-fallers (NFs); two passed away. The SDA showed significantly higher short-term diffusion coefficients and critical displacements in SI in the anterior–posterior direction compared with both NSI and NF. However, in the medio-lateral direction there were no statistically significant differences between groups. For the traditional measures of sway, the average anterior–posterior CoP range was also larger in SI individuals. Conclusions This work suggests that older fallers with a deterioration of anterior–posterior postural control may be at higher risk of serious injury following fall events.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013