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Efficacy of an exercise program on balance and lower limb functional level among elderly population of Gujarat, India: A randomized controlled trial to prevent falls

Bhoomika G Brahmbhatt, Megha S Sheth.

Background: Altered balance and lower limb muscle weakness are the common risk factors associated with falls in elderly.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of an exercise program on balance and lower limb functional level in elderly population with moderate risk of fall.

Materials and Methods: An exercise program, including warm-up exercises, balancing exercises, strengthening exercises, flexibility, and cool-down exercises, was designed for this interventional study. A total of 50 participants were selected by simple random sampling method from the physiotherapy department of the hospital, Ahmedabad, and they were randomly allocated into an interventional group of 25 and a control group of 25 participants. The inclusion criteria included, age: 6080 years, both men and women, and Berg balance scale (BBS) score of ≤45. The intervention group received the exercise program for 4 times/week for up to 6 weeks and the control group was kept in waiting period. Pre- and post-exercise programs, a comparison of all measures was done with focus on BBS and lower extremity functional scale as primary outcome measures to find out the efficacy of the treatment protocol. The general linear model: Repeated measures analysis of variance and the independent t-test was used for analysis and values of P < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Results: A total of 50 participants including 28 females and 22 males aged 6080 years with an average age of 69.2 6.6 years were included in the study. The balance and lower limb functional level of the intervention group were significantly higher than the baseline values with large effect size. Furthermore, the intervention group showed statistically significant improvement in balance and lower limb function when compared with the control group.

Conclusion: The randomized controlled trial indicated that the designed exercise program for elderly was effective, and there was a significant improvement in balance and lower limb functional level in participants who received the exercise program. This study suggested that elderly people with moderate risk of fall can minimize falls and related fractures by better balance and strength with exercises.

Key words: Balance; Elderly; Exercises; Lower Limb Function

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