Assessing balance and functional movement among adults participating in a movement program in an Indigenous community: An observational study


Spine pain and chronic disease disproportionately affect rural populations, women, older adults, and those who experience socioeconomic challenges. This trend is similarly seen in rural Indigenous communities. Movement is a non-pharmacological way to prevent and manage pain. Environmental barriers to physical activity in Indigenous communities include a lack of safe walking/bicycle paths, facilities, and programs. Other barriers may include individual physical function limitations. Assessment of balance and physical function is further complicated in rural regions by the limited availability of professionals to conduct assessments. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of using self-report and observational assessments of balance and physical function in adult participants in a movement program in a Manitoba First Nations community. Self-report measures included the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale© (ABC) and PROMIS ® (physical function). Observational measures were assessed offline using video for the four-stage balance test and 30-second chair stand. All measures were administered in-person. Nine adults (ages 21-65) were assessed. Similar patterns were demonstrated between the ABC (34-92; 66% high function) and the PROMIS (29-62; 55% normal range) with a range of scores. Observed assessment scores were more consistent, with all 30-second chair stand scores falling below the average range for physical function, and static four-stage balance performance on the one-foot balance task for 77% of participants was less than 10 seconds (3-8s range). Both types of measurement were feasible. Self-report measures combined with focused observational measures may capture a more comprehensive understanding of individual balance performance and physical function.