Predictive Validity of the UPDRS Postural Stability Score and the Functional Reach Test, when Compared with Ecologically Valid Reaching Tasks

M. E. Jenkins, The University of Western Ontario
Andrew M. Johnson, The University of Western Ontario
J. D. Holmes, The University of Western Ontario
F. F. Stephenson, Alberta Health Services
S. J. Spaulding, The University of Western Ontario


Balance problems and falls are a common concern among individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD). Falls frequently occur during daily activities such as reaching into cupboards in the kitchen or bathroom. This study compared the correlation among two standard postural stability tests - the postural stability score on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and the Functional Reach Test (FRT) - and ecologically valid reaching tasks that correspond to reaching at different cupboard heights among 20 individuals with PD and 20 age-matched controls. Both the FRT and the UPDRS postural stability tests are quick measures that can be performed during the clinical examination. The FRT, but not the postural stability score, demonstrated a significant correlation with the ecologically valid reaching tasks, among individuals with PD. Furthermore the FRT scores did not correlate with the UPDRS postural stability scores, indicating that these are measuring different aspects of balance. This study suggests that the FRT score may better predict the risk of postural instability encountered during daily activities among individuals with PD.