Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Michelle Gray

Committee Member

Ronna C. Turner

Second Committee Member

Ro DiBrezzo

Third Committee Member

Inza Forte

Fourth Committee Member

Leah Henry

Abstract

Exercise is a known intervention to prevent fall risk among older adults; however, adherence is poor. Therefore, it is of interest to determine if other interventions improve function and decrease fall risk among older adults. Balance-Based Torso-Weighting (BBTW) is a non-exercise intervention that improves functional measures among adults with multiple sclerosis, yet the effectiveness of BBTW has not been assessed among older adults without progressive neurological disorders. We conducted a double-blind, randomized study to analyze the effect of BBTW on functional measures and falls efficacy among community-dwelling, mobility limited older adults after 5 days of wearing BalanceWear® for 4 hours per day. Participants were aged 86.00 (6.05) years. Individuals were randomized into a weighted group (WG, n =17) or a sham weighted group (SWG, n = 16). Repeated-measures analyses of variance indicated a significant group x time interaction on mobility variables (p = .096). The WG improved in Short Physical Performance Battery scores (1.25 points, p < .05) compared to the SWG, who was unchanged. There was a significant effect of time for the Five-Times Sit-to-Stand Test (p = .01), with greater mean improvements in the WG (23%) compared to the SWG (17%). There was a not a significant interaction for the gait variables (p = .45), but there was a moderate effect size (η2 = .06) as well as a significant main effect of time (p = .02). A significant effect of time was observed for the Functional Gait Assessment (FGA, p = .01) with the WG demonstrating greater mean improvements in the FGA (WG 14%, SWG 6%). Gait speed trended towards a significant effect of time (p = .06), with the WG improving by 0.06 m/s compared to the SWG by 0.04 m/s. There were no interactions or main effects between groups for the Timed Up and Go, tandem stance, the Functional Reach Test, the instrumented modified Clinical Test on Sensory Interaction and Balance, or falls efficacy. This study indicates that wearing BalanceWear® for 4 hours a day over 5 days decreases potential fall risk by improvements in mobility, gait, and chair stands in mobility impaired older adults.

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