Music-based multitasking exercise program helps improve gait and balance in the elderly

November 24, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING, Featured

Uncertainty of gait, impaired mobility and loss of balance. These are just a few of the physical downsides of aging. All of these lead to high prevalence of falls and injuries in the elderly. And falls lead to bone fractures that even worsen mobility impairment and overall quality of life.

Researchers at the University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine of Geneva in Switzerland report that a special exercise might help senior citizens overcome these physical problems and improve their quality of life. According to the study authors:

“Each year, one-third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall, and half of those fall repeatedly. Exercise can counteract key risk factors for falls, such as poor balance, and consequently reduce risk of falling in elderly community-dwelling individuals.”

They are recommending a “music-based multitask exercise program” which they have tried out in elderly community dwellers. The exercise is especially geared towards improving gait since most falls happen during walking. The program consisted of:

Two groups of community-dwelling elderly people were assigned to different exercise interventions were compared. One group was assigned to the normal exercise activities (control) and the other to the music-based multitask exercise program for 6 months. During the next 6 months, the groups switched activities.

The result showed that:

  • Improvements in balance and functional tests were more pronounced in the multitasking group vs. the control group.
  • Walking speed increased in the multitasking group.
  • Stride length increased and stride time variability decrease in the multitasking group.
  • The benefits of the multitasking program persisted beyond the first 6 months, even after the interventions were switched.

This study authors concluded

“…that participation in music-based multitask exercise classes once a week over a 6-month period can improve gait performance under single and cognitive-motor, dual-task conditions, as well as improve balance, and reduce both the rate of falls and the risk of falling in at-risk elderly community-dwelling adults. Our findings suggest that this program may be useful for fall prevention and rehabilitation in community-based setting such as senior centers.”

Finding your feet and gait again after a stroke

July 28, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Every year, over 700,000 people in the US suffer from stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the number 3 cause of mortality in the US, after heart diseases and different types of cancer.

Those who are lucky to survive this monster can end up with after effects that would include paralysis, speech or language impairment, vision problems, behavioural changes, and memory loss.

Partial paralysis can result in gait impairment and with it the stigma of disability. Mobility is affected and the patient may not be able to perform activities he or she has done before the stroke. Rehabilitation helps but is not always successful in helping people regain their normal gait. Through rehabilitation, most stroke survivors are able to walk again but with the aid of walkers and canes.

This study conducted at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation (BIR) aimed to help stroke survivors walk normally again using a specially designed treadmill.

The approach, known as locomotor treadmill training with partial body weight support, consists of a treadmill outfitted with a harness. The patient is secured to the harness to support a portion of their body weight while walking on the treadmill. In this reduced weight environment, the patient can relearn how to walk in a safe and controlled manner. Once the patient becomes stronger, more body weight is added until they can comfortably walk on their own without the need for assistance.

Seven patients were recruited to participate in this pilot study. After the study was completed, all participants were able to walk and even gain their normal gait without the aid of a cane. In most cases, it is not evident that they have suffered from stroke from the way they walk.

Early intervention is essential for this method to work. Patients should start the rehabilitation program as early as possible so as to prevent abnormal gait patterns from developing. Currently, there is no clinical “gold standard” for stroke rehabilitation.

 

About BIR:

Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation is a not-for-profit, 92-bed hospital that offers intense, specialized rehabilitation services for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, and other orthopaedic and neurological disorders. Physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, known as physiatrists, lead interdisciplinary clinical teams, which work with patients to design and implement a treatment program to achieve the patient’s goals. In 2007, Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation was named among the top rehabilitation hospitals in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals” guide, an honor it has received for 10 years.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.