The effect of perturbation-based balance training on balance control and fear of falling in older adults: a single-blind randomized controlled trial

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. Perturbation-based balance training (PBT) is a novel intervention that can improve older adults’ balance recovery responses and falls.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

One in three community-dwelling older adults experience a fall each year, resulting in consequences such as fractures, head injuries, fear of falling, reduced quality of life, and restriction of activities (1). Exercise continues to be indicated as the top intervention to reduce falls (23% reduction of rate of falls) (1).

One exercise intervention that has recently received increased attention is perturbation-based training (PBT). PBT is a task-specific strategy that focuses on the recovery actions needed to prevent falls when unexpected balance perturbations occur. The aim of PBT is to improve reactive balance by repeatedly exposing older adults to perturbations that destabilize them in a safe and controlled environment, such as in a body harness and over a treadmill.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the additive effects of three PBT sessions on balance control and fear of falling in older adults with an increased risk of falling based on a recent fall incident.

Exercise continues to be indicated as the top intervention to reduce falls (23% reduction of rate of falls).
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There is a potential of utilizing perturbation-based training to reduce risk of falling, but further studies are needed to identify the optimal frequency, dose, progression, and duration.

METHODS

Participants: 82 community-dwelling older adults (age≥65 years; median age of 73 years) who have experienced a fall.

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