Balance training


Understanding the causes of falls and how to improve balance


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.

See what’s going on at NeuRA


SafeTrip – step training to reduce falls in older adults

The SafeTrip study will to investigate how older adults learn protective stepping skills to avoid falls when encountering obstacles, trips and slips. With NeuRA’s cutting-edge motion capture system and other wearable devices, the SafeTrip team will be able to observe and analyse movement and muscle activity during reactive or proactive step training. The SafeTrip team are looking for older volunteers aged 65 years and over who: Have not been advised by a medical practitioner not to exercise Have no existing conditions that may prevent them from exercising (e.g. severe pain, heel ulcers, exercise intolerance) Have no neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, etc.) Have no history of lower limb, pelvis or vertebral fracture(s) or lower limb joint replacement(s) in the past 6 months. Are able to walk 500m comfortably without mobility aids or rest Living independently in the Sydney metropolitan community Are not currently participating in any other falls prevention research studies Eligible volunteers will be invited to NeuRA for some baseline assessments before being randomly allocated to either the intervention or control group. Only the intervention group will undertake 3 weekly reactive balance training sessions followed by 3-monthly retraining sessions, while the control group assume their usual activity. All participants will receive a fall prevention information booklet and will be invited back to NeuRA for a 12-month re-assessment. For more information or to get involved, please contact the SafeTrip team on 02 9399 1067 or HC190952 [embed][/embed]