Objective: To determine the effect of a specific exercise regimen on clinical measures of postural stability and confidence in a population with peripheral neuropathy (PN).
Design: Prospective, controlled, single blind study.
Setting: Outpatient clinic of a university hospital.
Participants: Twenty subjects with diabetes mellitus and electrodiagnostically confirmed PN.
Intervention: Ten subjects underwent a 3-week intervention exercise regimen designed to increase rapidly available distal strength and balance. The other 10 subjects performed a control exercise regimen.
Main outcome measures: Unipedal stance time, functional reach, tandem stance time, and score on the activities-specific balance and confidence (ABC) scale.
Results: The intervention subjects, but not the control subjects, showed significant improvement in all 3 clinical measures of balance and nonsignificant improvement on the ABC scale.
Conclusion: A brief, specific exercise regimen improved clinical measures of balance in patients with diabetic PN. Further studies are needed to determine if this result translates into a lower fall frequency in this high-risk population.