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Berg Balance Scale - Geriatric Assessment Tool Kit

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The Berg balance scale is used to objectively determine a patient's ability (or inability) to safely balance during a series of predetermined tasks. It is a 14 item list with each item consisting of a five-point ordinal scale ranging from 0 to 4, with 0 indicating the lowest level of function and 4 the highest level of function and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. It does not include the assessment of gait.

Berg Balance Scale

Intended Population

Elderly population with impairment of balance, patients with acute stroke (Berg et al 1995, Usuda et al 1998).

Method of Use

Equipment require

  • 2 standard chairs (one with arm rests, one without)
  • Ruler
  • A footstool or step
  • 15 ft walkway
  • Stopwatch or wristwatch

The scale

Name: __________________________________ Date: ___________________

Location: ________________________________ Rater: ___________________


Sitting to standing ________
Standing unsupported ________
Sitting unsupported ________
Standing to sitting ________
Transfers ________
Standing with eyes closed ________
Standing with feet together ________
Reaching forward with outstretched arm ________
Retrieving object from floor ________
Turning to look behind ________
Turning 360 degrees ________
Placing alternate foot on stool ________
Standing with one foot in front ________
Standing on one foot ________

Total ________

General instructions for completing the scale

Please document each task and/or give instructions as written. When scoring, please record the lowest response category that applies for each item.

In most items, the subject is asked to maintain a given position for a specific time. Progressively more points are deducted if:

  • the time or distance requirements are not met
  • the subject’s performance warrants supervision
  • the subject touches an external support or receives assistance from the examiner

The subject should understand that they must maintain their balance while attempting the tasks. The choices of which leg to stand on or how far to reach are left to the subject. Poor judgment will adversely influence the performance and the scoring.

Equipment required for testing is a stopwatch or watch with a second hand, and a ruler or other indicator of 2, 5, and 10 inches. Chairs used during testing should be a reasonable height. Either a step or a stool of average step height may be used for item # 12.


Cut-off scores for the elderly were reported by Berg et al 1992 as follows :

  • A score of 56 indicates functional balance.
  • A score of < 45 indicates individuals may be at greater risk of falling.

It has been reported more recently that in the elderly population a change of 4 points is needed to be 95% confident that true change has occurred if a patient scores within 45–56 initially, 5 points if they score within 35–44, 7 points if they score within 25–34 and, finally, 5 points if their initial score is within 0–24 on the Berg Balance Scale.

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