Sitting Balance Scale

Use the Sitting Balance Scale to gauge the capability of mostly non-ambulatory patients to balance themselves while sitting, standing, and moving.

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What is the Sitting Balance Scale?

Assessing the balance abilities of patients, particularly those recovering from ambulatory-impacting injuries, neurological disorders, the frail, those who have fallen, and the elderly, is extremely vital in their care and treatment.

Balance serves as a key determinant of independence and functional ability. A comprehensive balance assessment allows healthcare professionals to pinpoint potential problem areas, predict the risk of future falls, and develop individualized care plans.

These plans can enhance patients' mobility, confidence, and overall quality of life and prevent debilitating injuries caused by falls. It's, therefore, crucial to incorporate practical balance tests and self-reported measures into the patient assessment process to gain a holistic understanding of a patient's balance capabilities.

To achieve this, healthcare professionals must conduct thorough examinations of their patients. These examinations involve assessments, some requiring patients to perform specific actions to evaluate their fall risk. Other assessments consist of self-reports or interviews, allowing patients to discuss their confidence in performing certain activities without losing balance. These assessments are crucial as they assist professionals in identifying areas of concern and developing personalized treatment plans for their patients.

One such assessment is the . This valuable tool is primarily utilized with non-ambulatory, frail patients with chronic conditions. As the name suggests, it assesses a patient's ability to maintain balance while seated and engaging in various activities.

Printable Sitting Balance Scale

Download this Sitting Balance Scale to assess balance in non-ambulatory patients.

How to use the Sitting Balance Scale

Before using the Sitting Balance Scale to assess your patients, it is essential to inform them about the purpose and instructions of this scale. Once the patient agrees to be assessed using the scale, you can proceed with the evaluation.

If they agree to do the activities on the scale, you must prepare the following:

  • Stopwatch
  • 2 lb. cuff weight
  • Pen
  • 12-inch ruler
  • Slipper
  • Physician Desk Reference (PDR) or other stable object 3 to 3.5 inches in height
  • Clipboard
  • 15”x15”x15” foam

Once you have these materials ready, you can follow the procedure:

  • Each activity will be performed by the patient while seated without support on a firm, sturdy surface while their feet are in a weight-beating position unless otherwise specified on the sheet.
  • Your patient only gets one attempt for each activity.
  • Make sure to instruct your patients for each activity.
  • Document each activity.
  • Score according to the prompts for each activity. If the patient fails to achieve a certain objective, score them accordingly. For example, to score a 3 or 4, the patient must sit with their eyes closed for 30 seconds. They get a 3 if supervised or required support or 4 if unsupervised. If they fail and only get 27 seconds, score them a 2. Prompts vary per item, so follow their respective prompts.
  • For each activity, you need to remind the patient to maintain their balance

Here is a list of the activities they need to do in order:

  1. Sitting unsupported with eyes open
  2. Sitting unsupported with eyes closed
  3. Sitting unsupported with arms as levers
  4. Reaching forward with the outstretched arm while sitting
  5. Picking up an object from the floor while sitting unsupported
  6. Placing alternate foot on a book or object 3-3.5’ in height
  7. Reaching laterally with an outstretched arm while sitting unsupported
  8. Turning to look behind over left and right shoulder while sitting
  9. Lateral bend to elbow in sitting
  10. Sit-to-stand transfers
  11. Picking up an object from the floor while sitting unsupported on foam

Each item can score anything from 0 to 4. Score according to each prompt, which you will see in our template.

The maximum score is 44. Higher scores indicate a higher level of functionality. There are no score ranges for this, but it’s best to note the scores for each item to determine areas of concern.

Sitting Balance Scale Example

Now that you know why assessing balance is important when it comes to treating certain patients, as well as what the Sitting Balance Scale is, what it’s for, what its activities are, and how to score it, it’s time for you to see what the scale looks like. Our template is mostly just a copy of the original created by Mary Thompson and Ann Medley. We’ve added radio buttons for those who want to go paperless and comments boxes for each item so that professionals using the scale can jot down their observations and document their findings for each activity that’s part of the scale.

If you like what you see and believe this will help you gauge your patients in terms of their balancing capabilities, by all means, download our free Sitting Balance Scale PDF template! We hope it helps!

Download this Sitting Balance Scale Example:

Sitting Balance Scale Example

When is the best time to use the Sitting Balance Scale?

The Sitting Balance Scale is primarily used for patients who are mostly non-ambulatory or have difficulty with movement. It is recommended to use this scale when treating such patients. Before using it, it is important to inform the patient about the scale, as it requires them to perform activities that involve their balance. If the patient is uncomfortable with the demands of the scale, they have the right to refuse. In such cases, using less strenuous assessments to evaluate their balance is advisable. 

It is important to note that the Sitting Balance Scale should not be the sole assessment used to evaluate patients. To gain a comprehensive understanding, it is recommended to incorporate the Sitting Balance Scale as part of a broader examination. Relying solely on one assessment may not provide a partial picture of the patient's condition. By utilizing additional assessments that involve standing and walking, we can better assess the risk of falling and identify specific areas of concern. Moreover, evaluating the patient's confidence in performing activities is crucial without losing balance. 

What are the benefits of using the Sitting Balance Scale?

It’s a great way to gauge if patients can balance themselves while seated.

The Sitting Balance Scale is a nifty assessment that can help professionals examine if a patient can maintain their balance while seated and performing basic movements. By using this scale, professionals can rate patients based on their current capabilities and even jot down their observations as they watch them perform the eleven activities that comprise the Sitting Balance Scale. The scale provides standardized ratings for each item, and they all have observable criteria to determine what scores to give.

It can help identify key areas of concern.

The maximum score for this scale is 44, though there are no score ranges and designations. As a rule of thumb, the higher the score, the higher the level of functionality/capability the patient has to balance themselves while sitting down and performing specific movements or activities. Despite having no designations, it’s good practice to look at the scores for each item. It’s the best way to identify key areas of concern that a patient must be aware of (if they’re not yet aware) and what you need to address.

It can help create treatment plans.

The Sitting Balance Scale can help professionals create personalized patient treatment plans. By identifying key areas of concern, professionals can determine what their treatment plan should focus on and then add what needs to be added that will help address those areas of concern.

It can be used to monitor patients down the line.

Let’s say you have created a treatment plan for your patient, and they’ve been following it for a while now. You can schedule a routine checkup with them and inform them about your intent to conduct the Sitting Balance Scale again. If they agree to do it, then conduct the tests again. If they scored higher than they did before, they are slowly regaining their functional independence and becoming more capable of balancing themselves on their own. If not, you might want to give it some time or adjust your plan.

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How can Carepatron help with balance-related work?

If you’re reading this Sitting Balance Scale guide, you’re likely a geriatrician, physical therapist, neurologist, or healthcare professional. If so, we hope this guide was a good introduction or refresher for using this clinical resource. We also hope that downloading the template tied to it helps you cover more ground with your frail/mostly non-ambulatory patients.

While we have you here, we’d like to ask you to spend some time exploring more of our platform if you haven’t. We have numerous features that we’re sure you’ll find to be awesome and beneficial to your work in streamlining your workflows and improving your work efficiency and quality.

We will leave it to you to see which of our features will tickle your fancy, but we’d like to highlight one: our resource library. This library is one of the features that we’re most proud of. It is filled with clinical resources covering numerous healthcare fields, practices, and topics, especially physical therapy and neurology. This Sitting Balance Scale guide and the template tied to it are part of this library.

We mentioned earlier that it would be best for you to conduct a comprehensive examination of a patient that involves other assessments instead of relying on the Sitting Balance Scale. We’d like you to know that our library has other perfect assessments for evaluating balance and risk of falling, such as the Parkinson’s Balance Test, 30-second Sit-to-Stand, and the Timed Up and Go Test.

Another point we made is that, besides looking at a patient’s balancing capabilities and risk of falling, you should also gauge their confidence to perform certain activities (especially activities of daily living) without losing balance and falling. We have the Falls Efficacy Scale and the ABC Scale to do just that.

You will be spoiled for choice while browsing our resource library. What makes it even greater is that the resources are free! Feel free to download as much as you want and need!

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Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to accomplish the scale?

Since the Sitting Balance Scale has eleven activities, it can be accomplished within thirty minutes, but it’s possible to take longer. It depends on your patient.

Are the activities of the Sitting Balance Scale difficult to do?

Given the target population of the Sitting Balance Scale, it is likely to take a lot of work for a good number of patients. It’s best to make sure that the patients are comfortable and to provide support when needed, even if the goal is to have them do the tasks without support. Luckily, the scale has a standardized scoring system and prompts to account for that.

What if I’m not a healthcare professional? Can I use this to gauge a relative that fits the target population for this scale?

No. It’s best to see a professional and have them conduct the activities on the scale. Under no circumstance should you conduct these activities and determine what’s best for your relative.

How long does it take to accomplish the scale?
How long does it take to accomplish the scale?
Written by
Matt Olivares
Matt Olivares

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