As a physical therapist, you don’t need to be reminded of the importance of balance and coordination, as you help your students function effectively, both during static and dynamic activities. What assessments can you use to best gauge children’s functional balance?


Segmental Assessment of Trunk Control (SATCO) measures a child’s ability to maintain trunk control while sitting in a steady, active and reactive state. It determines the highest level of trunk support at which a person loses postural control.


The Pediatric Balance Scale (PBS) includes 14 activities to test balance – from simple gauges such as sitting and standing to complex tasks like retrieving objects from the floor.


Certain items from the PBS are incorporated into the Early Clinical Assessment of Balance (ECAB), which measures head, trunk, sitting and standing postural control for children under the age of eight. In addition to the PBS, ECAB uses a test known as the Movement Assessment for Infants.

4 Repetitions Sit to Stand

This test measures the time to complete five consecutive cycles of sitting to standing.


The Functional Reach Test (FRT) assesses the distance that one or both hands can reach forward while maintaining a standing balance.


The Pediatric Reach Test (PRT) measure the distance that one hand can reach forward and laterally while maintaining either a standing or sitting balance.


TUG stands for Timed Up and Go, a simple functional balance test that includes such skills as transferring between sitting and standing, walking a short distance, and completing a 180-degree turn.

Timed Floor to Stand (TFTS) is a modification of TUG that includes transferring between the floor and standing.

How do you decide which test or tests to use?

All are free and can be completed in a short amount of time. So, in deciding how to best test functional balance, consider:

  • Appropriateness: Choose the assessment most appropriate to a child’s level of function. Decide whether you will use it as a norm-referenced or criterion-referenced test.
  • Specificity: Each test measure balance while performing specific tasks. Choose the one that matches the challenges you have identified during your initial assessment.
  • Consider analyzing the results of multiple tests, versus relying on just one.

For additional resources to round out your school-based therapy toolbox, contact Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. We have a pulse on the latest developments and market intelligence – and can partner with you to reach your goals and keep your career on track.


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