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Br J Sports Med. 2017 Apr;51(7):586-593. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095452. Epub 2016 Jan 8.

Step training improves reaction time, gait and balance and reduces falls in older people: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

1
Falls and Balance Research Group, Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
2
The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan.
3
Institute for Biomedicine of Aging, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-N├╝rnberg, Nuremberg, Germany.
4
School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the effects of stepping interventions on fall risk factors and fall incidence in older people.

DATA SOURCE:

Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, CENTRAL) and reference lists of included articles from inception to March 2015.

STUDY SELECTION:

Randomised (RCT) or clinical controlled trials (CCT) of volitional and reactive stepping interventions that included older (minimum age 60) people providing data on falls or fall risk factors.

RESULTS:

Meta-analyses of seven RCTs (n=660) showed that the stepping interventions significantly reduced the rate of falls (rate ratio=0.48, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.65, p<0.0001, I2=0%) and the proportion of fallers (risk ratio=0.51, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.68, p<0.0001, I2=0%). Subgroup analyses stratified by reactive and volitional stepping interventions revealed a similar efficacy for rate of falls and proportion of fallers. A meta-analysis of two RCTs (n=62) showed that stepping interventions significantly reduced laboratory-induced falls, and meta-analysis findings of up to five RCTs and CCTs (n=36-416) revealed that stepping interventions significantly improved simple and choice stepping reaction time, single leg stance, timed up and go performance (p<0.05), but not measures of strength.

CONCLUSIONS:

The findings indicate that both reactive and volitional stepping interventions reduce falls among older adults by approximately 50%. This clinically significant reduction may be due to improvements in reaction time, gait, balance and balance recovery but not in strength. Further high-quality studies aimed at maximising the effectiveness and feasibility of stepping interventions are required.

SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS REGISTRATION NUMBER:

CRD42015017357.

KEYWORDS:

Accident; Aging/ageing; Exercise training; Fall; Systematic review

PMID:
26746905
DOI:
10.1136/bjsports-2015-095452
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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