Approximately 422 million people have diabetes mellitus worldwide, with the majority diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The complications of diabetes mellitus include diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) and retinopathy, both of which can lead to balance impairments. Balance assessment is therefore an integral component of the clinical assessment of a person with T2DM. Although there are a variety of balance measures available, it is uncertain which measures are the most appropriate for this population. Therefore, the aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review on clinical balance measures used with people with T2DM and DPN.
Databases searched included: CINAHL plus, MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, Dentistry and Oral Sciences source, and SCOPUS. Key terms, inclusion and exclusion criteria were used to identify appropriate studies. Identified studies were critiqued using the Downs and Black appraisal tool. Eight studies were included, these studies incorporated a total of ten different clinical balance measures. The balance measures identified included the Dynamic Balance Test, balance walk, tandem and unipedal stance, Functional Reach Test, Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction and Balance, Berg Balance Scale, Tinetti Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment, Activity-Specific Balance Confidence Scale, Timed Up and Go test, and the Dynamic Gait Index.
Numerous clinical balance measures were used for people with T2DM. However, the identified balance measures did not assess all of the systems of balance, and most had not been validated in a T2DM population. Therefore, future research is needed to identify the validity of a balance measure that assesses these systems in people with T2DM.