Background: older people participate in exercise programmes to reduce the risk of falls but no study has investigated a specific balance strategy training intervention presented in a workstation format for small groups.
Objective: to determine whether a specific balance strategy training programmeme delivered in a workstation format was superior to a community based exercise class programme for reducing falls.
Design: a randomised controlled trial model.
Setting: Neurological Disorders, Ageing and Balance Clinic, Department of Physiotherapy, The University of Queensland.
Subjects: 73 males and females over 60 years, living independently in the community and who had fallen in the previous year were recruited.
Methods: all subjects received a falls risk education booklet and completed an incident calendar for the duration of the study. Treatment sessions were once a week for 10 weeks. Subject assessment before and after intervention and at 3 months follow-up included number of falls, co-morbidities, medications, community services and activity level, functional motor ability, clinical and laboratory balance measures and fear of falling.
Results: all participants significantly reduced the number of falls (P < 0.000). The specific balance strategy intervention group showed significantly more improvement in functional measures than the control group (P = 0.034). Separate group analyses indicated significantly improved performance in functional motor ability and most clinical balance measures for the balance group (P < 0.04). The control group only improved in TUG and TUGcog.
Conclusions: the results provide evidence that all participants achieved a significant reduction in falls. Specific balance strategy training using workstations is superior to traditional exercise classes for improving function and balance.