A pointing task to improve reaching performance in older adults

Sally A. Engler, Kristina A. Lilly, Jan Perkins, Ksenia I. Ustinova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate whether adding a pointing task would influence functional reach test performance in younger and older adults. DESIGN: While standing on a force plate, 20 older (73 ± 8 yrs) and 20 younger (23 ± 1 yrs) adults were randomly administered a modification of the functional reach test and the functional point test. Functional pointing involved reaching and pointing at the farthest possible target in a series of 1.27-cm colored craft pom-poms attached at 2.54-cm intervals on a yardstick. RESULTS: Both older adults (P ≤ 0.001) and younger adults (P ≤ 0.043) reached farther using the functional point test. Older adults also increased their anterior center of pressure displacement with this test (P ≤ 0.037). CONCLUSIONS: The addition of a pointing task can make the original clinical test more functional and increase reaching distance in both older and younger adults. Further research is needed to determine whether functional pointing challenges subjects' stability limits more than the traditional test does and offers greater sensitivity in the evaluation of functional balance and fall risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Aging
  • Balance
  • Motor Control
  • Rehabilitation


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