BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Clinicians have a countless number of tools to identify an older adult's fall risk, however, most of them do not include the skill of ambulating backwards. This mobility skill is a higher level functional task that could have increased sensitivity for identifying fallers. Therefore, the authors of this study decided to examine the 3-m backwards walk (3MBW) test. Their objectives were to compare fallers versus non-fallers, report association of the 3MBW with existing measures of fall risk, report the sensitivity and specificity of a series of 3MBW cutoff points to discriminate people who fell from people who did not fall, and compare the diagnostic accuracy for retrospective falls of the 3MBW with other outcome measures.
Design: Retrospective cohort study Participants: Community dwelling older adults who were able to ambulate without an assistive device, sign a consent form and did not have a neurological diagnosis.
Assessments completed: Retrospective falls history was collected using an interview question. Assessments tools and cut-off scores used are summarized in Table 1.
A more challenging assessment tool such as the 3MBW test could be more accurate at identifying fallers than the tools currently used.
Table 1: Assessment Tools Used
Fallers versus Non-Fallers: When comparing all of the study results (see Table 2), only the 3MBW identified a significant difference between fallers vs. non-fallers.