Type of Article:  Original Research

Volume 10; Issue 5 (October 2022)

Page No.: 4369-4381

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.16965/ijpr.2022.158

Feasibility of a self-reported digital fall risk assessment compared with the traditional functional balance and gait assessments performed during student led balance screening: A pilot study

Nupur Hajela PT, DPT, PhD *1, Peggy R. Trueblood PT, PhD 2, Sheryl Flynn PT, PhD 3.

1 California State University, Fresno, USA.

2 Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, USA.  

3 Blue Marble Health, USA.

Corresponding author:  Dr. Nupur Hajela, PT, DPT, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, California state University, Fresno;  Director, Rehabilitation Technologies & Outcomes Research, Central California Sports Sciences Institute Co-Director, Gait Balance and Mobility Research and Education Center 5315 Campus Drive M/S PT29 Fresno, CA 93740-8031, USA. E-Mail: nhajela@mail.fresnostate.edu


Background: One in four older adults in the age range 65 and above, report falls in the US each year. Some falls cause injuries or even deaths and can pose a significant economic burden on society. This pilot study compares two different methods of measuring fall risk in older adults. The goal of this research is to investigate the feasibility of a digital fall risk assessment tool, compared with the traditional functional gait and balance assessments.
Methods: Community dwelling older adults aged 60 years or older were recruited. Physical therapy students guided the participants through the following traditional paper-based tests: Berg Balance Scale (BBS) or Fullerton Advanced Balance (FAB), 30 Second Chair Stand (30CST), 50-foot Walk Test, Balance Efficacy Scale (BES), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression Scale (CES-D). All participants then independently completed the following digitally guided tests using the Health in Motion© (Blue Marble Health) remote therapeutic monitoring platform that comprised of Fall Risk Questionnaire (FRQ), One Leg Stand Test (OLST), 30 Second Sit to Stand Test (30STST), and 2 Question Depression Screen (2QDS).
Results: This pilot study involved six female and one male community-dwelling older adults aged 67-90 years (81.57 ± 8.07). In general, the digital fall risk assessments correlated with some of the traditional paper-based fall risk tests. Specifically, there was a statistically significant moderate correlation between the digital fall risk questionnaire (FRQ) and the paper-based BES (r=0.77, p=0.043), and CES-D (r=0.76, p=.046). There was a statistically significant very strong correlation between the digital OLST and the 50-foot walk preferred speed (r=0.80, p=0.056), fast speed (r=0.92, p=.0009), and moderate correlation with 30CST (r=0.79, p=0.033). Further, there was a 100% match between both digital and paper-based depression tests. In terms of average total duration of administering the test, the digital fall risk assessment takes 7 minutes in comparison to 60 minutes with traditional balance and gait assessment.
Conclusion: During the global COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, digital fall risk self-assessment tools can enable clinicians to collect asynchronous, objective, and standardized assessments prior to their telehealth visits.
KEYWORDS: Fall Prevention, Fall Screening, Self-Assessment Mhealth App, Telehealth, Pro Bono Balance Clinic, Remote Patient Monitoring.


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Cite this article: Nupur Hajela PT, DPT, PhD, Peggy R. Trueblood PT, PhD, Sheryl Flynn PT, PhD.  Feasibility of a self-reported digital fall risk assessment compared with the traditional functional balance and gait assessments performed during student led balance screening: A pilot study. Int J Physiother Res 2022;10(5):4369-4381. DOI: 10.16965/ijpr.2022.158