Balance, Mobility, and Falls Among Community-Dwelling Elderly Persons: Effects of a Rehabilitation Exercise Program

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess the short-term effect of an exercise-based rehabilitation intervention on balance, mobility, falls and injuries.

Design:

This randomized, controlled trial with repeated measures was performed at an outpatient rehabilitation center. Elderly, ambulatory, community-dwelling volunteers underwent 6 wks of supervised stretching, balance, endurance, coordination, and strengthening exercises. Controls attended seminars. Data were recorded for time and quality performance on a functional obstacle course and for self-reported falls and injuries.

Results:

From baseline through 6-mo follow-up, participants in the exercise group (n = 122) significantly outperformed those in the control group (n = 83). The exercise group’s functional obstacle course quality improved 2.3% postintervention and 1.57% at follow-up compared with 0.3% for the control group for each time period (P = 0.001). Functional obstacle course completion time improved 7.69% at postintervention and 8.35% at follow-up for the exercise group compared with 4.0% and 3.4% for the control group. Of baseline fallers in the intervention group, 87% (compared with 34.5% for the controls) reported no falls in the subsequent 6 mos. Of those reporting injuries in the 6 mos preintervention, 89.7% in the intervention group (compared with 55.6% for controls) reported no injury at 6 mos postintervention.

Conclusions:

Our intervention can improve functional performance and protect against falls and fall-related injuries.

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