Unassisted orthostatic balancing exercises in a fall-safe environment enhances balance and stability in frail elderly
American College of Sports Medicine 2011 National Conference
American College of Sports Medicine
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency rooms and accidental deaths in the elderly. One in three elderly fall annually and are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than for other types of injuries. Most hip fractures among elderly are caused by falls and about 1 in 5 fracture patients die within a year while approximately 30% sustain injuries that interfere with independent living.
PURPOSE: Balance may be improved by static balance exercises, however; exercises for the elderly must be conducted in a safe environment to prevent a fall during training. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of non-supervised, independent static balance training within a secure fall-safe environment in elderly participants.
METHODS: Thirty-two male and females (82.6+6.1 yrs) residing independent living facilities were randomly assigned to an experimental or a control group. Assessments included: 30-Second Chair Stand Test (CST), Timed 8-ft Up and Go Test (TUG), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and a Step Up Test (SUT). The experimental group engaged in standing, static balancing and mild leg exercises for 12 minutes per session, 3/wk for 12 weeks. Exercises were done independent of spotters within specially constructed frame consisting of tethers connected to the subject so that he/she could not fall. The control group was be given literature on prevention of falls.
RESULTS: Statistical comparisons (ANOVA) of before and after the 12-week intervention yielded significant (p<0.01) improvement for the experimental group over the control group in all areas tested.
CONCLUSION: Static balance exercises conducted independently without supervisory personnel led to improvements in balance and functional ability in frail elderly. Such improvements logically correspond to a reduction in falling allowing greater personal independence. Also, independent training allows personnel to attend to other duties, thus providing a cost savings. Lastly, this type of training may also be suitable in rehabilitation facilities for those suffering from injuries that affect balance and posture.
Jacobson, B.H., Thompson, B.J., Brown, L., Rial, C. Unassisted orthostatic balancing exercises in a fall-safe environment enhances balance and stability in frail elderly. Presented at the American College of Sports Medicine national conference, Denver, CO. May 2011. Med Sci Sport Exerc, 43 (5 Suppl.)