To determine the effects of a perturbed walking exercise using a bilateral separated treadmill in physically disabled elderly.Design:
Participants of the study were 32 long-term care facility residents and outpatients aged 66–98 yrs. Participants were randomly assigned to a usual exercise group or to a treadmill exercise group. Perturbed gait exercise on a treadmill continued for 6 mos. Number of falls and time to first fall during a 6-mo period, balance and gait functions, and reaction time were evaluated before and after intervention.Results:
The treadmill exercise group showed significant improvement in balance and reaction time when compared with the usual exercise group. Number of falls in the treadmill exercise group was 21% lower than that in the usual exercise group. However, this difference was not significant. No significant differences were seen in time to first fall.Conclusions:
Gait training with unexpected perturbation seems to have a beneficial impact on physical function in disabled elderly individuals. The results suggest that this program may be used as an exercise intervention to reduce falls in institutional settings.