Today's News

Saturday, February 24, 1996

Says balance board exercises help elderly master their fear of falling

Ninety-five percent of elderly patients from a variety of assisted living facilities who participated in a uniaxial balance board program improved not only their balance but increased their confidence, according to a study presented in Scientific Exhibit S04.

"Twenty-five subjects who had balance difficulties and were at a risk for a fall were placed on a 30-day program consisting of lateral movement on a simple uniaxial board, 1.5 inches off the ground," said William E. Nordt, III, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Westin Clinic, Richmond, Va. "Four to five times per week, each participant performed three sets of two-minute intervals on the board to help enhance balance, strengthening and reflex mechanisms," he said.

Nineteen females and six males, with an average age of 73 years, were assessed by a subjective questionnaire for evidence of balance problems as well as objective testing, which consisted of single-legged stance (eyes open and eyes closed), tandem straight-line walk, and a series of balance movements.

Baseline subjective and objective testing was repeated at the conclusion of the 30-day study period. Participants were able to maintain their balance with improved strength and duration under the variety of testing conditions. Ninety-seven of the participants enjoyed the exercise periods and found them to be non-stressful. All but one participant wanted to continue the program.

"What was the most impressive was the upbeat camaraderie of the 'balance team' and the resultant decreased their fear of falling," said Dr. Nordt. "We hope this will affect their quality of lifestyle."

Co-authors from the West End Orthopaedic clinic with Dr. Nordt are Eric Plotkin, Melissa Sommer, and Scott Sachatello, research assistants; and Kevin Dintino, PT, and Robert Yakos, ATC, from the Rehab Clinic, Richmond, Va.

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