Background: In a recent study of 655 physical therapists working with a stroke population, the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) was identified as the most commonly used assessment tool across the continuum of stroke rehabilitation. Given the widespread popularity of the BBS, it is important to critically appraise the BBS for its use with a stroke population.
Objective: The purposes of this study were to conduct a systematic review of the psychometric properties of the BBS specific to stroke and to identify strengths and weaknesses in its usefulness for stroke rehabilitation.
Results: Twenty-one studies examining the psychometric properties of the BBS with a stroke population were retrieved. Internal consistency was excellent (Cronbach alpha=.92–.98) as was interrater reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs]=.95–.98), intrarater reliability (ICC=.97), and test-retest reliability (ICC=.98). Sixteen studies focused on validity and generally found excellent correlations with the Barthel Index, the Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke Patients, Functional Reach Test, the balance subscale of Fugl-Meyer Assessment, the Functional Independence Measure, the Rivermead Mobility Index (except for weight shift and step-up items), and gait speed. Berg Balance Scale scores predicted length of stay, discharge destination, motor ability at 180 days poststroke, and disability level at 90 days, but these scores were not predictive of falls. Eight studies focused on responsiveness; all reported moderate to excellent sensitivity. Three studies found floor or ceiling effects.
Discussion and Conclusion: The BBS is a psychometrically sound measure of balance impairment for use in poststroke assessment. Given the floor and ceiling effects, clinicians may want to use the BBS in conjunction with other balance measures.
- Received July 18, 2007.
- Accepted January 7, 2008.
- Physical Therapy