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Sense of Balance - Balance Retraining

age aging nursing training adults muscle strength

To determine if balance function can be improved with training, in the 1990s research labs began to design and test different balance training programs. High-resistance muscle strength training studies have found that age-related declines in muscle strength are partially reversible, especially in frail older adults, such as nursing home residents. Dynamic balance training involving Tai Chi (an ancient Chinese discipline of meditative movements) also has been shown to reduce the risk of falls in healthy older adults. Studies focusing on sensory retraining, in which older adults practiced standing under changing sensory conditions (e.g., standing on foam, eyes open versus closed, head tilted) showed significant reductions in sway over ten days of training. Multidimensional exercise programs, including combinations of lower extremity strength and flexibility exercises, static and dynamic balance exercises, and participation in an aerobic activity (usually walking) have also improved balance and mobility function and reduced the likelihood of falls among older adults with a history of falling.

MARJORIE H. WOOLLACOTT

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ANIANSSON, A.; HEDBERG, M.; HENNING, G.; et al. "Muscle Morphology, Enzymatic Activity and Muscle Strength in Elderly Men: A Follow Up Study." Muscle Nerve 9 (1986): 585–591.

FIATARONE, M. A.; MARKS, E. C.; RYAN, N. D.; MEREDITH, C. N.; LIPSITZ, L. A.; and EVANS, W. J. "High-Intensity Strength Training in Nonagenarians: Effects on Skeletal Muscle." Journal of the American Medical Association 263 (1990): 3029–3034.

INGLIS, J. T.; HORAK, F. B.; SHUPERT, C. L.; and RYCEWICZ, C. "The Importance of Somatosensory Information in Triggering and Scaling Automatic Postural Responses in Humans." Experimental Brain Research 101 (1994): 159–164.

LIN, S-I. "Adapting to Dynamically Changing Balance Threats: Differentiating Young, Healthy Older Adults and Unstable Older Adults." Ph.D. diss., University of Oregon, 1997.

LIPSITZ, L. A.; JONSSON, P. V.; KELLEY, M. M.; and KOESTNER, J. S. "Causes and Correlates of Recurrent Falls in Ambulatory Frail Elderly." Journal of Gerontology 46 (1991): M114–122.

SHELDON, J. H. "The Effect of Age on the Control of Sway." Gerontology Clinics 5 (1963): 129–138.

SHUMWAY-COOK, A.; WOOLLACOTT, M.; BALDWIN, M.; and KERNS, K. "The Effects of Cognitive Demands on Postural Control in Elderly Fallers and Non-fallers." Journal of Gerontology 52 (1997): M232–240.

WOLF, S. L.; BARNHART, H. X.; KUTNER, N. G.; et al. and the Atlantic FICSIT Group. "Reducing Frailty and Falls in Older Persons: An Investigation of Tai Chi and Computerized Balance Training." Journal of the American Geriatric Society 44 (1996): 489–497.

WOOLLACOTT, M. H.; SHUMWAY-COOK, A.; and NASHNER, L. M. "Aging and Posture Control: Changes in Sensory Organization and Muscular Coordination." International Journal of Aging and Human Development 23 (1986): 97–114.

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