Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of arch supports on balance, functional mobility, and pain in the back and lower extremity joints among older adults.
Design: A single-factor within-subjects design was used.
Method: A convenience sample of older adults formed a single group for fitting with arch supports. Balance, functional mobility, and self-reported pain in the back and lower extremities were measured without the arch supports, immediately after the insertion of the supports in the subjects' shoes, and after 6 weeks of arch support use.
Findings: Sixty-seven older adults completed the study. The measures used indicated statistically significant improvements in scores for the Berg Balance Scale [Berg, K., Williams-Dauphinee, S., & Williams, J. I., (1995). The Balance Scale: Reliability assessment for elderly residents and patients with an acute stroke. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 27, 27-31] and functional mobility [Timed Up and Go test; Podsiadlo, D., & Richardson, S. (1991). The Timed "Up and Go": A test of basic functional mobility for frail elderly persons. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 39, 142-148] as well as reduced back, foot, knee, and hip pain (p < .05). There was no statistically significant change in ankle pain (p > .05).
Implications: Knowledge of interventions that enhance health and well-being is essential for nurses. Arch supports may provide improved balance and functional mobility while reducing back and lower extremity joint pains. Further research is needed to support evidence-based practice.