Strategies to prevent falls in the elderly: effect of a 10-week Taiji training program on proprioception, functional strength and mobility, and postural adaptation
SubjectRisk factors associated with falls in the elderly
Muscle strength in older adults
Balance and mobility in the elderly
Proprioception in older adults
Taiji training program
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The impact of elderly falls on the Canadian health care system is widespread. Balance and motor coordination are commonly affected during the aging process due to declining proprioception (Ribeiro & Oliveira, 2007). In addition, there is slower walking speed and shorter stride length among fallers (Wolfson, Judge, Whipple, & King, 1995). Robinovitch et al. (2013) reported that 41% of falls in long term care homes were attributed to incorrect weight shifting. Considering the strong relationship between falls in the elderly and declining proprioception (Mion et al. 1989), the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 10-week Taiji training program on ankle proprioception, functional lower extremity strength and mobility and postural adaptation of older adults at risk of falls. A sample of 32 older adults (M = 66.5, SD = 4.94) participated in this study. Sixteen participants were conveniently assigned to the Taiji group; practiced Taiji Quan 6-form twice weekly for 60 minutes for 10-weeks, and completed their weekly Taiji logbook. The remaining 16 participants in the control group; continued their regular activities except Taiji and completed their weekly logbook. All the participants completed pre and post assessments of postural control on an AMTI force platform, functional mobility on the Adapted Timed Up and Go Test (ATGUG), ankle joint proprioception i.e., perception of joint movement sensation, on a tilting platform, and functional strength of lower extremities on the Chair Stand test. A two by two mixed factorial ANOVA indicated significant changes with large effect size for proprioception (backward angle), lower extremity strength (repetitions), functional mobility (ATGUG 5 and ATGUG 4) and medium effect size for functional mobility (ATGUG 2). Changes in the proprioception variable suggest that Taiji may be a valuable alternative to traditional exercise programs. As Taiji exercises are beneficial in enhancing ankle joint backward movement perception and it also increases the efficacy of body movement by promoting protective effects against declining physical functions. Future studies should implement randomized controlled design and a larger sample size.