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Berg Balance Scale (BBS)
Availability
Please click here for more information on the Pediatric Modification of the Berg Balance Scale.
Classification
Supplemental – Highly Recommended: Spinal Cord Injury (SCI); not recommended for youth < 18y.
Supplemental: Cerebral Palsy (CP), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Stroke
Exploratory: Unruptured Cerebral Aneurysms and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH)
Short Description of Instrument
Construct measured: Balance function by assessing the performance of functional tasks
Generic vs. disease specific: Generic
Means of administration: In-person by a trained examiner
Intended respondent: Participant
# of items: 14
# of subscales and names of sub-scales: N/A
# of items per sub-scale: N/A
Comments/Special Instructions
Scoring:
A five-point scale, ranging from 0–4. “0” indicates the lowest level of function and “4” the highest level of function. Total Score = 0–56. Score of 41–56 = low fall risk, 21–40 = medium fall risk, 0–20 = high fall risk.
Background:
The Berg Balance Scale (BBS) was developed to measure balance among older people with impairment in balance function by assessing the performance of functional tasks. It is a valid instrument used for evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions and for quantitative descriptions of function in clinical practice and research. This test has been validated for use in individuals with SCI, and has the advantage of being valuable for other neurologic populations.
SCI-Pediatric:
Pediatric Balance Scale, has been evaluated in children age 5–15 with known balance impairments. Shows good test-retest and inter-rater reliability. Child must be able to follow directions. It has not been evaluated specifically for children with SCI.
Rationale/Justification
Strengths/Weaknesses:
A study by Conradsson and colleagues (2007) demonstrated that a change of 8 BBS points is required to reveal a genuine change in function between two assessments among older people who are dependent in ADL and living in residential care facilities. The BBS is appropriate for community dwelling elderly people, individuals that have suffered a stroke, and the elderly population with balance difficulties.
Psychometric Properties:
Overall, the BBS appears to be a reliable tool used to measure outcomes. Berg et al demonstrated that the inter-rater reliability ICC was .99. The BBS may have a ceiling effect, and is insensitive to individuals with very high levels of balance.
Administration:
Administration takes approximately 15–20 minutes.
References
Key References:
Berg K, Wood-Dauphinee S, Williams JI and Gayton D. Measuring balance in the elderly: preliminary development of an instrument. Physiotherapy Canada. 1989;41:304–311.
 
Berg KO, Wood-Dauphinee SL, Williams JI Maki B. Measuring balance in the elderly: validation of an instrument. Can J Public Health. 1992;83 Suppl 2:S7–S11.
 
Conradsson M, Lundin-Olsson L, Lindelof N, Littbrand H, Malmqvist L, Gustafson Y, Rosendahl E. Berg balance scale: intrarater test-retest reliability among older people dependent in activities of daily living and living in residential care facilities. Phys Ther. 2007;87(9):1155–1163.
 
Additional References:
Bogle Thorbahn LD & Newton RA. Use of the Berg Balance Test to predict falls in elderly persons. Phys Ther. 1996;76(6):576–583; discussion 584–575.
 
SCI-specific:
Wirz M, Muller R, Bastiaenen C. Falls in persons with spinal cord injury: validity and reliability of the Berg Balance Scale. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2010;24(1):70–77.
 
SCI-Pediatric-specific:
Franjoine MR, Gunther JS, Taylor MJ. Pediatric balance scale: a modified version of the berg balance scale for the school-age child with mild to moderate motor impairment. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2003;15(2):114–128.
 
SAH-specific:
Berg K, Wood-Dauphinee S, Williams JI. The Balance Scale: reliability assessment with elderly residents and patients with an acute stroke. Scand J Rehabil Med. 1995;27(1):27–36.
 
Nakamura DM, Holm MB, Wilson A. Measures of Balance and Fear of Falling in the Elderly: a review. Phys Occup Ther Geriatr. 1998;15(4):17–32.
 
Whitney SL, Poole JL, Cass SP. A review of balance instruments for older adults. Am J Occup Ther. 1998;52(8):666–671.
 
Zwick D, Rochelle A, Choksi A, Domowicz J. Evaluation and treatment of balance in the elderly: A review of the efficacy of the Berg Balance Test and Tai Chi Quan. NeuroRehabil. 2000;15(1):49–56.
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