Effect of a physical therapeutic intervention for balance problems in the elderly: a single-blind, randomized, controlled multicentre trial Effect of a physical therapeutic intervention for balance problems in the elderly: - a single-blind randomized, controlled multicentre trial
OBJECTIVE: To establish the effect of a short, individualized exercise programme on balance dysfunction in the elderly. DESIGN: A single-blind, randomized, controlled, multicentre trial. SETTING: Physical and recreational therapy departments from two rehabilitation centres. PARTICIPANTS: Ninety-four subjects of >75 years with functional balance problems living independently or in a residential care facility. Seventy-seven subjects completed the intervention period and four-week follow-up. At a one-year follow-up 49 subjects were evaluated on balance functioning. INTERVENTIONS: Twelve sessions of an individualized balance training programme (experimental group) or 12 sessions of an individualized extra attention programme (control group) given in 4-6 weeks. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Berg Balance Scale and the Dynamic Gait Index to establish balance functioning, a visual analogue scale to establish fear of falling in daily life and the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale to verify feelings of anxiety and depression. RESULTS: Subjects in the experimental group improved significantly more on the Berg Balance Scale and the Dynamic Gait Index than those in the control group (p f 0.001, p f 0.001, respectively). However the effect disappeared at a one-year follow-up on the Berg Balance Scale. No prognostic factors could be identified to determine who would benefit most from the individualized exercise programme. Results on the other response variables revealed no effect of the intervention. CONCLUSION: A short individualized exercise programme can improve functional balance in people aged 75 years and older. This improvement was maintained at least for one month but had worn off by one year.