Purpose: This study was designed to compare balance performance, perceived benefits, and compliance rates of community-dwelling older adults who participated in a short-term computerized balance training program (CBT), a home program of balance exercises (HEP), or no program.
Methods: Eighty-eight subjects were randomly assigned to train interactively on the Biodex Balance System, train at home using an illustrated exercise program, or perform no training for a period of 4 weeks. Pre- and post-test measures included simple reaction time (SRT), timed 50-foot walk test (TWT), the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and the Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES).
Results: A 3 x 2 analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed no significant differences in the performance improvements observed among the 3 groups (over time) in any of the measures. Likewise, an independent t-test showed no difference in compliance rates between the two training groups. Chi-square analyses of subjective comments indicated that subjects in the CBT group found their training to be more interesting and challenging than those who trained with the HEP. Approximately 20% of subjects in each group reported that their balance had improved.
Conclusion: Although compliance was good in both training groups and many subjects perceived an improvement in their balance and/or functional abilities, neither type of short-term balance training improved performance measures to a significant extent when compared to control subjects.
(C) 2002 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA