Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) is highly prevalent among diabetic ageing adults.
The sensory and motor impairments caused by this long-term complication lead to poorer physical
functioning, postural control and balance. These changes affect the activities of daily living and increase
the risk of falling, subsequently leading to increased morbidity and decreased quality of life.
Early detection of such functional limitations is important, as it may influence the effectiveness of rehabilitation
programs and prevent further functional dependence. This review focuses on functional
aspects related to balance, postural control and mobility in ageing adults suffering from DPN, as well
as their assessment by valid, reliable and low-cost performance-based measurements. PUBMED was searched for articles
in English published between 2004 and 2014. Search terms included diabetic neuropathy, balance, postural control, functional
mobility, and functional outcomes. Reviewed literature indicates that simple and low-cost measurements, easy to
include in clinical routines, can be used for screening impairments in complex functions, such as balance and mobility.
Some studies have also been able to correlate results from DPN severity scales with those of functional tests, showing that
applying such tests may improve the early diagnosis of this neurological disorder. Berg Balance Scale, Dynamic Gait Index,
Functional Reach Test, and Time Up and Go already have modified cut-off points for the Diabetes Mellitus older
population, but need validation for ageing adults with DPN. Further research on this subject should be addressed, in order
to improve assessment outcomes.