Machines that go “ping” may improve balance but may not improve mobility or reduce risk of falls

This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of computer-based electronic devices that provide feedback in improving mobility and balance and decreasing the number of falls. Randomized controlled trials were searched from the earliest available date to August 2013. Standardized mean differences were used to complete meta-analyses, with statistical heterogeneity being described with the I-squared statistic. The GRADE approach was used to summarize the level of evidence for each completed meta-analysis. Risk of bias for individual trials was assessed with the (Physiotherapy Evidence Database) PEDro scale. Thirty trials were included. There was high-quality evidence that computerized devices can improve dynamic balance in people with a neurological condition compared with no therapy. There was low-to-moderate-quality evidence that computerized devices have no significant influence on mobility, falls efficacy and falls risk in community-dwelling older adults, and people with a neurological condition in comparison to physiotherapy.

There is high-quality evidence that computerized devices that provide feedback may be useful in improving balance in people with neurological conditions in comparison to no therapy, however there is insufficient to evidence support more meaningful changes in mobility and falls risk.