The Aachen Mobility and Balance Index to measure physiological falls risk: a comparison with the Tinetti POMA Scale



The most commonly used mobility assessments for screening risk of falls among older adults are rating scales such as the Tinetti performance oriented mobility assessment (POMA). However, its correlation with falls is not always predictable and disadvantages of the scale include difficulty to assess many of the items on a 3-point scale and poor specificity. The purpose of this study was to describe the ability of the new Aachen Mobility and Balance Index (AMBI) to discriminate between subjects with a fall history and subjects without such events in comparison to the Tinetti POMA Scale.


For this prospective cohort study, 24 participants in the study group and 10 in the control group were selected from a population of patients in our hospital who had met the stringent inclusion criteria. Both groups completed the Tinetti POMA Scale (gait and balance component) and the AMBI (tandem stance, tandem walk, ten-meter-walk-test, sit-to-stand with five repetitions, 360° turns, timed-up-and-go-test and measurement of the dominant hand grip strength). A history of falls and hospitalization in the past year were evaluated retrospectively. The relationships among the mobility tests were examined with Bland–Altmananalysis. Receiver-operated characteristics curves, sensitivity and specificity were calculated.


The study showed a strong negative correlation between the AMBI (17 points max., highest fall risk) and Tinetti POMA Scale (28 points max., lowest fall risk; r = −0.78, p < 0.001) with an excellent discrimination between community-dwelling older people and a younger control group. However, there were no differences in any of the mobility and balance measurements between participants with and without a fall history with equal characteristics in test comparison (AMBI vs. Tinetti POMA Scale: AUC 0.570 vs. 0.598; p = 0.762). The Tinetti POMA Scale (cut-off <20 points) showed a sensitivity of 0.45 and a specificity of 0.69, the AMBI a sensitivity of 0.64 and a specificity of 0.46 (cut-off >5 points).


The AMBI comprises mobility and balance tasks with increasing difficulty as well as a measurement of the dominant hand-grip strength. Its ability to identify fallers was comparable to the Tinetti POMA Scale. However, both measurement sets showed shortcomings in discrimination between fallers and non-fallers based on a self-reported retrospective falls-status.

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Correspondence to M. Knobe.

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Conflict of interest

Matthias Knobe, Meike Giesen, Sarah Plate, Gertraud Gradl-Dietsch, Benjamin Bücking, Daphne Eschbach, Walter van Laack, and Hans-Christoph Pape declare that they have no competing interests. No funds were received by any of the authors in support of this study.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the RWTH Aachen University (Ethical Approval EK 171/14).

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Informed consent was obtained from each participant and participation was voluntary.

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Knobe, M., Giesen, M., Plate, S. et al. The Aachen Mobility and Balance Index to measure physiological falls risk: a comparison with the Tinetti POMA Scale. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg 42, 537–545 (2016).

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  • Ground-level falls
  • Co-managed care
  • Elderly
  • Fall prevention
  • Mobility tests
  • Mobility
  • Balance
  • Tinetti test