The effect of a 5-week wobble-board exercise intervention on ability to discriminate different degrees of ankle inversion, barefoot and wearing shoes: a study in healthy elderly

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Apr;52(4):573-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2004.52164.x.


Objectives: There is some evidence of an improvement in falls risk in the elderly after completing a wobble-board training program. This study examined the effects of wobble-board training on ability to discriminate between different extents of ankle inversion movements in a group of older subjects, tested wearing shoes and barefoot.

Design: A randomized, controlled, crossover pilot study.

Setting: Canberra region, Australia.

Participants: Twenty community-dwelling subjects aged 65 to 85 participated in this study; all were in good health with no known disorder of the musculoskeletal system.

Measurements: The accuracy with which subjects could identify a set of ankle inversion movements of different extents was measured, with testing conducted in an upright, weightbearing stance.

Intervention: The effects of a 5-week training program using a wobble board modified for data logging or a period of normal activity only were assessed. Subjects underwent an ankle movement discrimination test pre- and posttraining, with shoes on and off.

Results: Greater improvement in ankle movement discrimination capability was made in subjects who underwent wobble-board training than in subjects who did not train (F(1,18)=11.2, P=.003). Active movements at the ankle were also significantly better discriminated throughout when subjects were wearing shoes than when barefoot (F(1,18)=40.6, P=.001).

Conclusion: Training with a wobble board provides a simple in-home intervention that improves ability to differentiate between extent of movements into ankle inversion in subjects aged 65 and older. Research on trip and fall frequency after wobble-board use is needed before such training could be widely used.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Aged / physiology*
  • Aged / psychology
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ankle / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Australia
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Exercise Therapy / instrumentation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoes / standards*
  • Supination / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome