Moving forward in fall prevention: an intervention to improve balance among patients in a quasi-experimental study of hospitalized patients

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We investigated the effectiveness of three different rehabilitative programs: group exercise, individual core stability or balance training intervention with a stabilometric platform to improve balance ability in elderly hospitalized patients. We used a prospective quasi-experimental study design. Twenty-eight patients, 39.3% women [age (mean±SD) 72.4±6.5 years], known to have had at least a fall in the last 12 months, were consecutively assigned to one of the following three groups: group exercise intervention, individual core stability or balance training with a stabilometric platform (five sessions a week for 3 weeks in each group). Outcomes were collected at baseline and immediately following the intervention period. In each intervention group, patients showed improvement in balance and mobility, shown as an improvement in the three functional tests score (the Tinetti scale, the Berg Balance Scale, and the Time Up and Go test) (all, P<0.05), whereas, generally, the changes in the score of the test of the stabilometric platform (Postural Stability Test and Fall Risk Test) were not significant for all the interventions. No significant group-by-time interaction was detected for any of the intervention groups, which suggests that the groups improved in the same way. These findings indicate that participation in an exercise program can improve balance and functional mobility, which might contribute toward the reductions of the falls of elderly hospitalized patients and the subsequent fall-related costs. Functional scales might be more appropriate than an instrumental test (Postural Stability Test and Fall Risk Test of the Biodex Balance System) in detecting the functional improvement because of a rehabilitative intervention.

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