Comparison of the effectiveness of two programmes on older adults at risk of falling: unsupervised home exercise and supervised group exercise

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Abstract

Objective

To compare the effectiveness of unsupervised home and supervised group exercise on parameters related to risk of falling among older adults.

Design

Prospective, single-blind, randomized and controlled trial.

Setting

Nursing home.

Subjects

The subjects were selected from 535 independent individuals who resided in a nursing home. Forty-two older adults, aged >65 years, with risk of falling were recruited, and 32 of them completed the study.

Intervention

The 42 subjects were divided into two groups (unsupervised home exercise and supervised exercise group) randomly. Exercise sessions were performed three times a week for a period of eight weeks.

Main measures

Measurements were taken at baseline and after the completion of the exercise programme. The fear of falling was evaluated using a visual analogue scale, quadriceps muscle strength was measured with a dynamometer, flexibility was assessed with the sit and reach test, functional mobility was determined using the Timed Up and Go Test, balance was evaluated using one-leg and tandem standing, and Berg Balance Scale and proprioception was assessed with knee position sense.

Results

Thirty-two subjects (unsupervised home exercise n = 15, supervised group exercise n = 17) completed the exercise programme and all of the measurements. The unsupervised home exercise group showed significant improvement in balance, functional mobility and flexibility (P < 0.05). In addition to balance, functional mobility and flexibility, the supervised exercise group also showed significant improvements in both strength and proprioception (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Supervised group exercise is more effective at reducing the risk factors related to falling among older adults living in a nursing home than is unsupervised home exercise.

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