Studies have shown that individuals with COPD have impaired body balance, probably caused by the disease’s multisystemic manifestations plus age-related decline in balance, potentially increasing the risk of falling and its consequences. However, little is known about the profile of individuals with COPD who present balance impairments, especially related to sex and disease severity stages. The aim of this work was to compare static and functional balance between subjects with COPD and healthy controls and to check possible differences according to sex and degrees of disease severity. Forty-seven subjects with COPD and 25 healthy controls were included in this study. Their static balance was assessed in one-legged stance using a force platform and functional balance with the Timed Up and Go test. Additionally, participants performed spirometry, the 6-min walk test and isometric quadriceps maximal voluntary contraction assessment. Disease severity was classified according to the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease stages and BODE (body mass index, air-flow obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity) scores. In comparison with healthy controls, subjects with COPD had worse static (center of pressure displacement area: 9.3 ± 1.9 cm2 vs 11.6 ± 4.0 cm2, respectively, P = .01) and functional balance (Timed Up and Go test: 8.5 ± 1.3 s vs 10.3 ± 1.8 s, respectively, P < .001). In the COPD group, men performed better in the Timed Up and Go test than women (9.8 ± 1.2 s vs 10.9 ± 2.2 s, respectively, P = .03), whereas women presented a better static balance in comparison with men for all parameters related to center of pressure (P < .005 for all). Disease severity did not affect any balance results.
Individuals with COPD had worse static and functional balance in comparison with healthy controls. Sex can mediate these results, depending on the type of balance evaluation (force platform or functional test). Balance performance was similar among the groups classified according to disease severity.