Objective: To evaluate the effects of a new, individually adjusted, progressive and specific balance group training programme on fear of falling, step execution, and gait in healthy elderly people with fear of falling and tend to fall.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: The study was conducted in Stockholm County, Sweden.
Subjects: Fifty-nine community dwelling elderly people were recruited by advertisement, and allocated at random to an intervention group (n = 38) or a control group (n = 21).
Intervention: Individually adjusted, progressive and specific balance group training was given three times a week for three months. The training incorporated elements included in, and required for, independent activities of daily living, and for reactions to loss of balance during dual or multiple tasks.
Main measures: Fear of falling was assessed with Falls Efficacy Scale International (FES-I). The reaction time of step execution was measured with the step-execution test, and gait was measured with GAITRite®.
Results: After three months the intervention group showed significant positive changes in the FES-I (P = 0.008), in the step-execution phase of dual-task performance (P = 0.012), and in gait at preferred speed during single-task performance; in cadence (P = 0.030) and, at fast speed, in velocity (P = 0.004) and cadence (P = 0.001). Significant decreases were also found for the likelihood of depression after participating in the training programme.
Conclusion: This new balance training programme is feasible and leads to decreased fear of falling, decreased time for step execution during dual-task performance and increased velocity during fast walking.