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Vol. 50, No. 6, 2004
Issue release date: November–December 2004
Gerontology 2004;50:411–416

Fall Incidence in Frail Older Women after Individualized Visual Feedback-Based Balance Training

Sihvonen S. · Sipilä S. · Taskinen S. · Era P.
Departments of aHealth Sciences and bMathematics and Statistics, University of Jyväskylä, and cLIKES-Research Center, Jyväskylä; dBrain Research and Rehabilitation Center Neuron, Kuopio, Finland

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Background: The knowledge concerning balance training actually lowering fall rates among frail older persons is limited. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a 4-week individualized visual feedback-based balance training on the fall incidence during 1-year follow-up among frail older women living in residential care. Methods: Twenty-seven older women from 2 residential care homes were randomized into exercise (n = 20) and control (n = 7) groups. Balance measurements were carried out before and after a 4-week training period and falls were monitored by monthly diaries for 1 year. An interview about fear of falling and physical activity was completed before and after the intervention and after the 1-year follow-up. Results: A positive effect of balance training on fall incidence was found. A dynamic Poisson regression model showed that during the follow-up the monthly risk of falling was decreased in the exercise group compared to controls (risk ratio 0.398, 95% CI 0.174–0.911, p = 0.029). In addition, the exercise group reported a reduced fear of falling and increased physical activity after a training period but these changes declined during the follow-up period. Conclusion: Individualized visual feedback-based balance training was shown to be a promising method for fall prevention among frail older women. High compliance (97.5%) with the training program showed that carefully targeted training programs can be carried out among older people with health limitations.

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