Older lady stumbles on park pathway

Smartstep – balance and brain training


We are seeking volunteers aged 65+ to participate in our smartstep research study.

This study aims to investigate the benefits of balance training and brain training on physical functions (balance and mobility), cognitive functions, general health and accidental fall events in people aged 65+ years.

The smartstep training system has been designed to enable you to undertake training in your own home, by playing engaging and enjoyable computer games. The system connects to a TV or computer monitor. The games are played with either a step mat (figure 1) or a touch pad (Figure 2). These games have been designed to train important balance and cognitive functions, while also being fun. You may recognise some of the games, such as Space Invaders and Tetris (Figure 3).

To participate, you must be:

• 65 years of age or older
• English-speaking
• Living in the Sydney metropolitan area
• Able to perform everyday activities independently (eg.walk household distances)
• Have no neurodegenerative condition such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
• Agreeable to participate for 1 year.

This study will involve an initial appointment at NeuRA to assess your fall risk, using measures of strength, balance, vision, reaction time, stepping, walking and cognitive function. You will be asked some questions about your general health, physical activities, medication use and falls history.

After the baseline assessments, you will be randomly assigned to one of three groups:
1. The step training group: You will receive a step mat and game system and be asked to play for 120 minutes/week for 1 year.
2. The seated training group: You will receive a touch pad and game system and be asked to play for 120 minutes/week for 1 year.
3. The control group: you will receive information regarding health and fall prevention.

If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact the smartstep team by telephone: (02) 9399 1630, or email: smartstep@neura.edu.au

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