Balance training

EXTRA INFORMATION

Understanding the causes of falls and how to improve balance

WHAT WE KNOW

Our research

A randomised controlled pilot study of home-based step training in older people using videogame technology

Stepping impairments are associated with physical and cognitive decline in older adults and increased fall risk. Exercise interventions can reduce fall risk, but adherence is often low. A new exergame involving step training may provide an enjoyable exercise alternative for preventing falls in older people. Our research assessed the feasibility and safety of unsupervised, home-based step pad training and determine the effectiveness of this intervention on stepping performance and associated fall risk in older people. We designed a single-blinded two-arm randomised controlled trial comparing step pad training with control (no-intervention). The Intervention group (IG) participants were provided with a computerized step pad system connected to their TVs and played a step game as often as they liked (with a recommended dose of 2–3 sessions per week for 15–20 minutes each) for eight weeks. In addition, IG participants were asked to complete a choice stepping reaction time (CSRT) task once each week. CSRT, the Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA), neuropsychological and functional mobility measures were assessed at baseline and eight week follow-up. We found that step pad training can be safely undertaken at home to improve physical and cognitive parameters of fall risk in older people without major cognitive and physical impairments.

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