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Open Access Research article

The history of falls and the association of the timed up and go test to falls and near-falls in older adults with hip osteoarthritis

Catherine M Arnold1* and Robert A Faulkner2

Author Affiliations

1 College of Kinesiology and School of Physical Therapy, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

2 College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

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BMC Geriatrics 2007, 7:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-7-17

Published: 4 July 2007

Abstract

Background

Falling accounts for a significant number of hospital and long-term care admissions in older adults. Many adults with the combination of advancing age and functional decline associated with lower extremity osteoarthritis (OA), are at an even greater risk. The purpose of this study was to describe fall and near-fall history, location, circumstances and injuries from falls in a community-dwelling population of adults over aged 65 with hip OA and to determine the ability of the timed up and go test (TUG) to classify fallers and near-fallers.

Method

A retrospective observational study of 106 older men and women with hip pain for six months or longer, meeting a clinical criteria for the presence of hip OA at one or both hips. An interview for fall and near-fall history and administration of the TUG were administered on one occasion.

Results

Forty-five percent of the sample had at least one fall in the past year, seventy-seven percent reported occasional or frequent near-falls. The majority of falls occurred during ambulation and ascending or descending steps. Forty percent experienced an injury from the fall. The TUG was not associated with history of falls, but was associated with near-falls. Higher TUG scores occurred for those who were older, less mobile, and with greater number of co-morbidities.

Conclusion

A high percentage of older adults with hip OA experience falls and near-falls which may be attributed to gait impairments related to hip OA. The TUG could be a useful screening instrument to predict those who have frequent near-falls, and thus might be useful in predicting risk of future falls in this population.