Purpose: To evaluate whether rehabilitation of muscle force or balance improves postural stability and quality of life (QoL), and whether self-administered training is comparable with guided training among older adults residing in an institutional setting.
Patients and methods: A randomized, prospective intervention study was undertaken among 55 elderly patients. Three intervention groups were evaluated: a muscle force training group; a balance and muscle force training group; and a self-administered training group. Each group underwent 1-hour-long training sessions, twice a week, for 3 months. Postural stability was measured at onset, after 3 months, and after 6 months. Time-domain-dependent body sway variables were calculated. The fall rate was evaluated for 3 years. General health related quality of life (HRQoL) was measured with a 15D instrument. Postural stability was used as a primary outcome, with QoL and falls used as secondary outcomes.
Results: Muscle force trainees were able to undertake training, progressing towards more strenuous exercises. In posturography, the number of spiky oscillations was reduced after training, and stationary fields of torque moments of the ankle increased, providing better postural stability in all groups; in particular, the zero crossing rate of weight signal and the number of low variability episodes in the stabilogram were improved after training. While no difference was found between different training groups in posturography outcomes, a reduction of fall rate was significant in only the guided training groups. A significant part of the variability of the QoL could be explained by the posturography outcome (46%). However, the outcome of training was associated with a reduced QoL.
Conclusion: Even moderate or severely demented residents could do exercises in five-person groups under the supervision of a physiotherapist. An improvement in postural stability was observed in all training groups, indicating that even self-administered training could be beneficial. Posturography outcome indicated that training alters the postural strategy by reducing the oscillatory fluctuations of body sway signal. However, only guided training tended to reduce falls. Short training intervention programs may decrease QoL by changing the elderly's daily routine and making it more active and exhausting.
Keywords: falls; force and balance training; psychological consequences; time-domain body sway analysis.