Balance, mobility, and falls among community-dwelling elderly persons: effects of a rehabilitation exercise program

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Apr;84(4):238-50. doi: 10.1097/01.phm.0000151944.22116.5a.


Objective: To assess the short-term effect of an exercise-based rehabilitation intervention on balance, mobility, falls and injuries.

Design: This randomized, controlled trial with repeated measures was performed at an outpatient rehabilitation center. Elderly, ambulatory, community-dwelling volunteers underwent 6 wks of supervised stretching, balance, endurance, coordination, and strengthening exercises. Controls attended seminars. Data were recorded for time and quality performance on a functional obstacle course and for self-reported falls and injuries.

Results: From baseline through 6-mo follow-up, participants in the exercise group (n = 122) significantly outperformed those in the control group (n = 83). The exercise group's functional obstacle course quality improved 2.3% postintervention and 1.57% at follow-up compared with 0.3% for the control group for each time period (P = 0.001). Functional obstacle course completion time improved 7.69% at postintervention and 8.35% at follow-up for the exercise group compared with 4.0% and 3.4% for the control group. Of baseline fallers in the intervention group, 87% (compared with 34.5% for the controls) reported no falls in the subsequent 6 mos. Of those reporting injuries in the 6 mos preintervention, 89.7% in the intervention group (compared with 55.6% for controls) reported no injury at 6 mos postintervention.

Conclusions: Our intervention can improve functional performance and protect against falls and fall-related injuries.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method