Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Objective:

This study assessed whether 12 weeks of chiropractic care was effective in improving sensorimotor function associated with fall risk, compared with no intervention, in community-dwelling older adults living in Auckland, New Zealand.

Methods:

Sixty community-dwelling adults older than 65 years were enrolled in the study. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks and included proprioception (ankle joint position sense), postural stability (static posturography), sensorimotor function (choice stepping reaction time), multisensory integration (sound-induced flash illusion), and health-related quality of life (SF-36).

Results:

Over 12 weeks, the chiropractic group improved compared with the control group in choice stepping reaction time (119 milliseconds; 95% confidence interval [CI], 26-212 milliseconds; P = .01) and sound-induced flash illusion (13.5%; 95% CI, 2.9%-24.0%; P = .01). Ankle joint position sense improved across the 4- and 12-week assessments (0.20°; 95% CI, 0.01°-0.39°; P = .049). Improvements were also seen between weeks 4 and 12 in the SF-36 physical component of quality of life (2.4; 95% CI, 0.04-4.8; P = .04) compared with control.

Conclusion:

Sensorimotor function and multisensory integration associated with fall risk and the physical component of quality of life improved in older adults receiving chiropractic care compared with control. Future research is needed to investigate the mechanisms of action that contributed to the observed changes in this study and whether chiropractic care has an impact on actual falls risk in older adults.

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