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A Simple, Reliable Test to Predict Fall Risk

predict-fall-riskThe Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test, a standardized evaluation tool, is an early warning indicator for seniors who may need therapy intervention due to fall risk.  Though it is simple, the results of the reliable Timed Up and Go effectively correlate with gait, speed, balance and functional level in order to predict general risk of falling. i

The Timed Up and Go is used as a tool in home care as well as many other settings to assess patient mobility.  The test can be done almost anywhere and only takes about five minutes.  Patients wear their regular footwear and can use a walking aid if needed.

When conducting the TUG

Test, a clinician measures (in seconds) the time taken for a patient to stand up from a standard arm chair, walk three meters, turn, walk back to the chair and sit down.  The number of seconds needed to complete this sequence of motions helps determine the patient’s risk of falling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends the clinical assessor observe the patient’s stability, gait, stride length and sway.  Other important fall risk warning signs that can be watched for during this test are:

  • Slow tentative pace
  • Loss of balance
  • Short strides
  • Little or no arm swing
  • Steadying self on walls
  • Shuffling
  • Not using an assistive device properly ii

Next Steps

If you have noticed you or a loved one becoming less steady walking or more hesitant while moving throughout the day, talk to a doctor about the changes you are seeing.  Seeking out a Timed Up and Go assessment will shed more light on your current fall risk status, and repeating this test over time will help track changes that may occur so you can address them sooner.

In the meantime, there are some changes you can make right now in the home.  They will create a safer home environment and help prevent falls. Learn how to proactively decrease hazards at home and take positive steps to fall prevention and increase your independence.  Residential Home Health has created a resource to help you improve your safety at home – the guide Home Safety Tips to Minimize Your Risk of Falling.


ii http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/tug_test-a.pdf