Step training associated with better balance and fewer falls in older adults

Step training may decrease your chances of falling .

Question

What are the effects of step training on falls and fall risk factors?

What was done?

A review of existing experiments was conducted. Seven studies were included in the review, examining the effects of step training programs on a number of risk factors for falls, for example stepping reaction time.

What was found?

Step training programs were significantly associated with stepping reaction time, single leg stance, and timed-up-and-go performance and were associated with a reduction in falls by 50%.

How does this affect me?

Participating step training programs may reduce your chances of suffering a fall or a fall-related injury.

Article Abstract

Objective To examine the effects of stepping interventions on fall risk factors and fall incidence in older people.

Data source Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, CENTRAL) and reference lists of included articles from inception to March 2015.

Study selection Randomised (RCT) or clinical controlled trials (CCT) of volitional and reactive stepping interventions that included older (minimum age 60) people providing data on falls or fall risk factors.

Results Meta-analyses of seven RCTs (n=660) showed that the stepping interventions significantly reduced the rate of falls (rate ratio=0.48, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.65, p<0.0001, I2=0%) and the proportion of fallers (risk ratio=0.51, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.68, p<0.0001, I2=0%). Subgroup analyses stratified by reactive and volitional stepping interventions revealed a similar efficacy for rate of falls and proportion of fallers. A meta-analysis of two RCTs (n=62) showed that stepping interventions significantly reduced laboratory-induced falls, and meta-analysis findings of up to five RCTs and CCTs (n=36–416) revealed that stepping interventions significantly improved simple and choice stepping reaction time, single leg stance, timed up and go performance (p<0.05), but not measures of strength.

Conclusions The findings indicate that both reactive and volitional stepping interventions reduce falls among older adults by approximately 50%. This clinically significant reduction may be due to improvements in reaction time, gait, balance and balance recovery but not in strength. Further high-quality studies aimed at maximising the effectiveness and feasibility of stepping interventions are required.

Link to full article.

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