Taking balance training for older adults one step further

This study aimed to give the rationale and evidence for and a detailed description of a rehabilitation programme of proven effectiveness in improving balance in older adults. Based on the knowledge that balance loss typically occurs in situations when attention is divided, especially when being older, and that balance control relies on the interaction of several physiological systems, a specific and progressive balance training programme with dual- and multi-task exercises for older adults has been developed. Balance demanding exercises, specific to the various components of balance control and to situations in daily life, were performed in sitting, standing and walking at three different levels of progression (basic, moderate and advanced) of increasing difficulty and complexity. The training was performed in 45-minutes group sessions, with 6-10 participants in each group, three times per week during 12 weeks, with two or three physiotherapists present.

This balance training programme strengthens self-efficacy in balance control resulting in improved fall-related self-efficacy, decreased fear of falling, increased walking speed, and improved physical function. Participants found the programme motivating, valuable, fun, and enjoyable, as could be noted by a high rate of attendance.