Decreased balance is because of age-related decline in systems in the body that contribute to decreased muscle flexibility and strength, reduced central processing of sensory information, and slowed motor responses.
It is essential that balance exercises be incorporated into the physical activity programs of older adults. Neuromuscular, or balance, training is undertaken in order to improve posture, prevent injury or as a form of rehabilitation. Balance training is helpful for improving standing balance and locomotor performance in older adults.
Our research approaches
Stepping impairments are associated with physical and cognitive decline in older adults and increased fall risk. Specific exercises can reduce fall risk but participants sometimes do not practise these regularly enough. A new video game that encourages step training (called an exergame) may provide an enjoyable exercise alternative for preventing falls in older people.
NeuRA’s research assessed the feasibility and safety of unsupervised, home-based training using a step pad. It also designed a step pad training trial and through that determined the effectiveness of this type of intervention.
A segment of our trial participants were provided with a computerised step pad connected to their TVs and played a step game as often as they liked for eight weeks. They were also asked to complete a reaction time test weekly.
Our research discoveries
We found that step pad training can be safely undertaken at home to improve physical and cognitive parameters of fall risk in older people without major cognitive and physical impairments