K. Maroney1, C. Papadopoulos1, & W. Eaton2

1Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA; 2City of Tacoma Lighthouse Senior Activity Center, Tacoma, WA

Balance impairment has been shown to be a risk factor for falls among older adults. Exercise programs that emphasize on balance improvement often include a range of static and dynamic exercises performed on a solid surface. These programs are designed to train the motor system by altering the task demand. To train the sensory system, balance activities are performed by manipulating the environment through standing or moving on a compliant or moving surface. PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of mini-trampolines (rebounders) on static balance in a group of older adults over 16 weeks. METHODS: Thirty-three participants (mean age: 74.1 ± 7.9 yrs) were divided into an experimental (E), reference (R) and control (C) group. Twice a week, the E group participated in an exercise program using mini-trampolines. The R group consisted of individuals that participated in an evidence-based program emphasizing strength and balance development. The control (C) group did not participant in any exercise. Each participant completed the Berg Balance Scale and the Functional Reach Test to determine static balance. A trained and experienced evaluator assessed all participants at baseline and after 16 weeks. A repeated measures ANOVA with one within factor (time) and one between factor (groups) was used to evaluate differences between pre and post and among groups. Significance was established at p < 0.05. RESULTS: There was no significant (p = 0.38) difference in age among groups. Static balance from the Berg Balance Scale at baseline for the E, R, and C groups were 52.2 ± 3.2, 50.3 ± 6.1, 47.8 ± 4.3, respectively. After 16 weeks, static balance for the E, R, and C groups were 54.3 ± 3.2, 49.6 ± 9.4, and 48.6 ± 4.9, respectively. Static balance increased for the E group after 16 weeks of training, but this increase was not statistically significant (p = 0.52). Functional reach increased in both E (pre: 21.3 ± 8.3; post: 25.7 ± 8.2) and R (pre: 24.0 ± 12.7; post: 26.0 ± 8.1) groups after 16 weeks of training. There were no significant (p > 0.05) differences among groups in static balance at either baseline or after 16 weeks. CONCLUSION: These results showed that after 16 weeks of training using rebounders static balance could increase in a group of older adults. However, more research is needed to determine the effect of rebounders on dynamic balance.

Supported by WREMS Grant.

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