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Short-Term Effect of BalanceWear Therapy on Mobility in Older Adults With Mobility Limitations

Vincenzo, Jennifer L. PT, PhD, GCS1; Gibson-Horn, Cindy PT2; Gray, Michelle PhD3

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: October/December 2017 - Volume 40 - Issue 4 - p 175–182
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000094
Research Reports

Background and Purpose: Mobility limitations are prevalent among older adults and are related to falls, morbidity, and mortality. BalanceWear Therapy (BWT) improves measures of mobility among people with multiple sclerosis but has not been studied in older adults. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of BWT on measures of mobility among older adults with limited mobility.

Methods: This study was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial of older adults recruited from senior living facilities. Adults aged 86.0 (6.1) years were randomized into a BWT, weighted orthotic (WG), group, n = 17, or a sham BWT, sham-weighted orthotic (SWG), group, n = 16. All participants wore the orthotic for 4 hours per day for 5 days. Mobility, measured by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), Timed Up and Go (TUG), gait speed (GS), and the Functional Gait Assessment (FGA), was recorded pre- and postintervention. Separate repeated analysis of variances were conducted for each variable to determine the intervention group (WG, SWG) by time (before, after) interaction effect.

Results and Discussion: After a 5-day intervention of strategically weighted BWT intervention compared with a sham intervention, the SPPB improved 1.3 points in the WG, with no change in the SWG (P = .04). No between-group differences were observed for the TUG (P = .70), GS (P = .74), or FGA (P = .22).

Conclusion: A short-term BWT intervention resulted in improvements in mobility on the SPPB among older adults with limited mobility.

1Department of Physical Therapy, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Fayetteville.

2Motion Therapeutics, Oakland, California.

3Human Performance Lab, Office for Studies on Aging, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Address correspondence to: Jennifer L. Vincenzo, PT, PhD, GCS, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, Fayetteville, AR (jlvincenzo@uams.edu).

The authors received partial funding for this investigation from Country Meadows Retirement Facilities, Inc, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

One, author, CGH, has part ownership of Motion Therapeutics which manufactures and sells Balancewear garments. None of the other authors has a conflict of interest in this study.

Richard W. Bohannon was the Decision Editor.

© 2017 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA
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