Improving lateral stability in older adults at risk of falls Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Chang, Shuo-Hsiu J.
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences, Curriculum in Human Movement Science
  • Age-related changes in the ability to control lateral body motion have been associated with falls. Maintenance of lateral stability requires activation of appropriate muscle groups, primarily the hip abductors and adductors. Lateral trainer exercise has potential for increasing hip abductor muscle strength and rate of force development (RFD) and improving lateral stability by providing high velocity resistance training for the hip abductor muscles. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine lateral trainer exercise as a novel intervention for improving lateral stability in older adults. In the first project, forty-two older adults at high and low risk of falls were recruited to participate in kinematic and electromyographic data collection during lateral trainer, lateral step-up and side leg raise exercises performed at self-selected and maximal speeds. Results showed that the lateral trainer exercise can be performed safely by older adults and can provide an adequate level of hip abductor muscle activation for stimulating muscle strength adaptation. The side leg raise exercise produced the highest level of neuromuscular activation, however, indicating that this exercise may be the most beneficial for healthy older adults of the 3 hip abductor strengthening exercises investigated. In the second project, 21 older adults at risk of falls participated in a small randomized controlled trial of the effects of a 10-week lateral trainer exercise program on balance confidence, hip abductor maximal muscle strength and rate of force development, and lateral stability. Results showed that older adults in the exercise group performed better than those in the control group on one dynamic balance test, a timed 360o turn, but not on the other measured outcomes. The limited intervention effects may be related to the small sample size, the relatively high level of balance confidence and physical function of the older adults in the sample, and possible inadequacies in the duration of the exercise intervention and/or in the level of resistance used. Lateral trainer exercise provides an addition to the variety of hip abductor exercises from which older adults can choose. Additional research is needed to identify optimal intervention strategies for improving lateral stability in older adults. A multifactorial approach, one that takes the principle of specificity of training into account by incorporating specific balance training as well as strength training, may produce the best outcomes.
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  • In Copyright
  • Mercer, Vicki S.
  • Open access

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