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Comparison of Two Short-term Balance Training Programs for Community-dwelling Older Adults

Hinman Martha R. PT EdD
Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: 2002
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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.


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).


A 3 × 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.


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.

Send all correspondence to: Dr. Martha Hinman, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Sciences, Rt. 1144, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1144, Ph: 409/772-3068, Fax: 409/747-1613 (

Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She is also the physical therapy consultant to the University's Fall Assessment and Prevention Clinic.

Funding for this study was provided by the University of Texas Medical Branch small grants program.

The author would like to acknowledge Anita Lee, PT, Cheryl Saxton, PT, and Dana Walsh, PT, for their assistance with data collection and the Sealy Center on Aging for its assistance with subject recruitment.

Copyright © 2002 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association