Berg Balance Test Calculator

Created by Mariamy Chrdileli
Reviewed by Łucja Zaborowska, MD, PhD candidate and Adena Benn
Based on research by
Katherine Berg Measuring balance in the elderly: Preliminary development of an instrument Physiotherapy Canada (1989)
Last updated: Mar 14, 2023


Welcome to the Omni Berg Balance Test calculator, a convenient tool that can assist you in examining functional balance and the risk of falls in various patient populations.

For those with impaired balance, carrying out the activities of daily living may come with challenges, including the increased risk of falls, which often leads to complications such as fractures or infections, especially in the elderly. Tools such as the Berg Balance Test calculator can not only predict the risk of falls but also guide you to determine the type of rehabilitation center the patient can benefit from.

With this tool, you can get answers to some of the critical issues related to the Berg assessment, such as:

  • What is the clinical use of the Berg Balance Scale;
  • How to perform the Berg Balance Test;
  • How to score the Berg Balance Scale;
  • How to interpret the Berg Balance Scale results; and
  • How the Berg Balance Test calculator works.

And more!

What is the Berg Balance Scale?

The Berg Balance Scale is a testing tool created by Katherine Berg as an objective measure of functional balance. The scale's initial target population was elderly individuals, however, a multitude of studies revealed that the assessment tool has high reliability and validity in various patient populations, including those with:

  • Acute stroke;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Peripheral neuropathies;
  • Spinal cord injury;
  • Multiple sclerosis;
  • Osteoarthritis; and
  • Other conditions affecting gait (e.g., lower extremity amputees).

The Berg assessment contains three parts – evaluation of sitting balance, standing balance, and dynamic balance. The implementation takes approximately 15-20 minutes and can be administered by any trained healthcare professional. The test requires equipment such as:

  • Stopwatch;
  • Standard height chairs (one with armrests and one without);
  • Step stool;
  • Ruler or a measuring tape; and
  • Any object a patient can pick up (e.g., a shoe or a slipper).

💡 Do you want to explore more tools addressing patients' independence regarding mobility and ability to perform activities of daily living? Then visit the barthel index calculator. You may also examine balance and gait with the help of tinetti calculator.

How to evaluate a patient's performance with Berg's assessment

Since assessing a patient's performance accurately is vital, please find more detailed descriptions of possible item options below:

  1. Sitting or standing

    • The patient can stand without using their hands and stabilize independently.

    • The patient can stand independently using their hands.

    • The patient can stand using the hands after several tries.

    • The patient needs minimal aid to stand or stabilize.

    • The patient needs moderate or maximal assistance to stand.

  2. Standing unsupported

    • The patient can stand safely for 2 minutes.

    • The patient can stand for 2 minutes with supervision.

    • The patient can stand for 30 seconds unsupported.

    • The patient needs several tries to stand for 30 seconds unsupported.

    • The patient is unable to stand for 30 seconds unassisted.

  3. Sitting with back unsupported but feet supported on the floor or a stool

    • The patient can sit for 2 minutes under supervision.

    • The patient can sit for 30 seconds.

    • The patient can sit for 10 seconds.

    • The patient is unable to sit without support for 10 seconds.

  4. Standing to sitting

    • The patient sits safely with minimal use of hands.

    • The patient controls descent by using their hands.

    • The patient uses the back of their legs against the chair to control the descent.

    • The patient sits independently but has uncontrolled descent.

    • The patient needs assistance to sit.

  5. Transfers

    • The patient can transfer safely with minor use of hands.

    • The patient can transfer safely and needs to use their hands.

    • The patient can transfer with verbal cueing and supervision.

    • The patient needs one person to assist.

    • The patient needs two people to assist or supervise to be safe.

  6. Standing unsupported with eyes closed

    • The patient can stand for 10 seconds safely.

    • The patient can stand for 10 seconds with supervision.

    • The patient can stand for 3 seconds.

    • The patient cannot keep the eyes closed for 3 seconds but stays steady.

    • The patient needs help to keep from falling.

  7. Standing unsupported with feet together

    • The patient can place feet together independently and stand for 1 minute safely.

    • The patient can place feet together independently and stand for 1 minute with supervision.

    • The patient can place feet together independently but cannot hold for 30 seconds.

    • The patient needs help to attain position but can stand for 15 seconds with feet together.

    • The patient needs help to attain a position and cannot hold for 15 seconds.

  8. Reaching forward with an outstretched arm while standing

    • The patient can reach forward confidently >25 cm (10 inches).

    • The patient can reach forward >12 cm safely (5 inches).

    • The patient can reach forward >5 cm safely (2 inches).

    • The patient reaches forward but needs supervision.

    • The patient loses balance while trying/requires external support.

  9. Pick up an object from the floor from a standing position

    • The patient can pick up slippers safely and easily.

    • The patient can pick up slippers but needs supervision.

    • The patient cannot pick up but reaches 2-5cm (1-2 inches) from the slipper and keeps the balance independently.

    • The patient is unable to pick up and needs supervision while trying.

    • The patient cannot try/needs assistance to keep from losing balance or falling.

  10. Turning to look behind over left and right shoulders while standing

    • The patient looks behind from both sides, and the weight shifts well.

    • The patient looks behind one side, but the other side shows less weight shift.

    • The patient turns sideways only but maintains balance.

    • The patient needs supervision when turning.

    • The patient needs assistance to keep from losing balance or falling.

  11. Turn 360 degrees

    • The patient can turn 360 degrees safely in 4 seconds or less.

    • The patient can turn 360 degrees safely on one side only in 4 seconds or less.

    • The patient can turn 360 degrees safely but slowly.

    • The patient needs close supervision or verbal cueing.

    • The patient needs assistance while turning.

  12. Place alternate foot on the step/stool while standing unsupported

    • The patient can stand independently and safely and complete eight steps in 20 seconds.

    • The patient can stand independently and complete eight steps in >20 seconds.

    • The patient can complete four steps without aid with supervision.

    • The patient can complete >2 steps and needs minimal assistance.

    • The patient needs assistance to keep from falling/is unable to try.

  13. Standing unsupported with one foot in front

    • The patient can independently place the foot tandem and hold for 30 seconds.

    • The patient can independently place a foot ahead of the other and hold for 30 seconds.

    • The patient can take small steps independently and hold for 30 seconds.

    • The patient needs help to step but can hold for 15 seconds.

    • The patient loses balance while stepping or standing.

  14. Standing on one leg

    • The patient can lift the leg independently and hold for >10 seconds.

    • The patient can lift the leg independently and hold for 5-10 seconds.

    • The patient can lift the leg independently and hold for >3 seconds.

    • The patient tries to lift the leg, unable to hold for 3 seconds but remains standing independently.

    • The patient can not try or needs assistance to prevent a fall.

How to score berg balance scale

Although with the Berg Balance Test Calculator, you won't have to compute anything by hand, here is how the scoring system for this assessment of balance works:

The patient's performance on each task can be graded on a 5-point scale, where a score of 0 indicates the inability to perform the task, and a score of 4 shows the capacity to complete the task independently. In the end, the final score is determined by computing the sum of scores.

Depending on the result, the patient may fit into any given category below:

Score

Interpretation

45-56

The patient is primarily independent and carries a low risk of falling.

41-44

The patient is primarily independent in their movement but has a significant risk of falling.

21-40

The patient may require assistance with the activities of daily living, but there is a 100% fall risk.

0-20

The patient requires a wheelchair for mobility and carries a 100% fall risk.

How does the Berg Balance Test calculator work? How to perform the Berg Balance Test

Using the Berg Balance Scale calculator is relatively straightforward. After preparing the equipment mentioned above, carefully read instructions to a patient from the help text and rate your patient's performance using the given scales.

After inputting your evaluations, the Berg Balance Scale Calculator will display whether the patient requires a wheelchair for mobility, can perform daily activities with assistance, or can perform daily activities independently. The tool will also indicate the fall risk.

If you're working with elderly patients, you may also enjoy the Omni alzheimer’s life expectancy calculator.

FAQ

Is the Berg Balance Scale Standardized?

The berg balance scale is a standardized static balance assessment containing 14 predetermined tasks for older individuals. The scale is widely utilized since it has good reliability and validity and can be administered by any healthcare professional with appropriate training.

How do I score the Berg Balance Scale?

To score the Berg Balance Scale, you need to:

  • Evaluate the patient's performance on each task on a 5-point scale (0 = unable to perform the task and 4 = performed the task independently).
  • Compute the sum of the evaluation scores to determine which category your patent's score fits in.

What does a score of 30 mean on the Berg Balance Scale?

A score of 30 on the Berg Balance Scale indicates that the patient may need assistance performing daily living activities and there is a 100% fall risk. A score equal to or lower than 20 indicates that the patient requires a wheelchair for mobility and carries a 100% fall risk.

What tests to assess balance in elderly patients?

Some of the tests that assess balance and risk of falling in elderly patients are:

  • Timed Up and Go (TUG) test;
  • Berg Balance Scale (BBS);
  • Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment (POMA) test; and
  • One-Legged Stance Test (OLST).
Mariamy Chrdileli
Please demonstrate each task and/or give instructions as written in the help text.

Note: The help text/instructions can be found by pointing your cursor at each item. You can also find detailed descriptions of possible item options by clicking here.
1. Sitting to standing
Select...
2. Standing unsupported
Select...
3. Sitting with back unsupported but feet supported on floor or on a stool
Select...
4. Standing to sitting
Select...
5. Transfers
Select...
6. Standing unsupported with eyes closed
Select...
7. Standing unsupported with feet together
Select...
The following items are to be performed while standing unsupported.
8. Reaching forward with outstretched arm while standing
Select...
9. Pick up object from the floor from a standing position
Select...
10. Turning to look behind over left and right shoulders while standing
Select...
11. Turn 360 degrees
Select...
12. Place alternate foot on step/stool while standing unsupported
Select...
13. Standing unsupported one foot in front
Select...
14. Standing on one leg
Select...
Berg Score
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