Single-limb stance instability is a major risk factor for falls in older adults. Thus, improvement of stance stability could play an important role in fall prevention. This study aimed to determine whether high-frequency proprioceptive training (HPT) could significantly improve single stance stability (SSS) in older adults, by increasing proprioceptive control and optimizing the contribution of vision. Sixty-one subjects (30 men, 31 women) aged 65-85 years were investigated. The subjects were randomly assigned to three intervention groups, i.e., HPT, treadmill, and no intervention, stratifying by gender and proprioceptive control at baseline. Stability tests and HPT, consisting of 12 sessions (6 weeks), were performed with computerized postural stations. Pre-post analysis showed that HPT significantly improved SSS by increasing proprioceptive control (p<0.001) and postural control (p<0.01). The treadmill and no intervention groups did not show any significant change. The results showed that different levels of proprioceptive control may activate, inhibit, or minimize the stabilizing intervention of vision. Given that HPT significantly reduced ankle sprains and low back pain in professional athletes (previous study), we discuss the hypothesis that the risk of falls in older adults and the risk of recurrent injuries in athletes would have a common origin: lack of proprioceptive control consequent to reduced interaction with uneven ground. The findings suggest that HPT may be a powerful activator of refined proprioceptive control, which allows increased SSS, safer interaction with the ground, and mitigation of other risk factors.
Single limb stance instability is a risk factor for lower extremity injuries. Therefore, the development of proprioception may play an important role in injury prevention. The present investigation considered a professional basketball team for six years, integrating systematic proprioceptive activity in the training routine. The purpose was to assess the effectiveness of proprioceptive training programs based on quantifiable instability, to reduce ankle sprains, knee sprains, and low back pain through developing refined and long-lasting proprioceptive control. Fifty-five subjects were studied. In the first biennium (2004-2006), the preventive program consisted of classic proprioceptive exercises. In the second biennium (2006-2008), the proprioceptive training became quantifiable and interactive by means of electronic proprioceptive stations. In the third biennium (2008-2010), the intensity and the training volume increased while the session duration became shorter. ANOVA was used to analyze the differences in proprioceptive control between groups, years, and bienniums. Injury rates and rate ratios of injury during practices and games were estimated. The results showed a statistically significant reduction in the occurrence of ankle sprains by 81% from the first to the third biennium (p<0.001).Low back pain showed similar results with a reduction of 77.8% (p<0.005). The reduction in knee sprains was 64.5% (not significant). Comparing the third biennium to the level of all new entry players, proprioceptive control improved significantly by 72.2% (p<0.001). These findings indicate that improvements in proprioceptive control in single stance may be a key factor for an effective reduction in ankle sprains, knee sprains, and low back pain.
In developed countries, falls in older people represent a rising problem. As effective prevention should start before the risk becomes evident, an early predictor is needed.Single stance instability would appear as a major risk factor. Aims of the study were to describe single stance stability, its sensory components, and their correlation with age and gender. A random sample of 597 older adults (319 men, 278 women) living at home, aged 65-84, was studied. Stability tests were performed with an electronic postural station. The single stance test showed the impairment of single stance stability in older individuals (75-84 yrs). The significant decline of stability in the older subjects may be explained by the impairment of proprioceptive control together with the decrease in compensatory visual stabilization and emergency responses. Younger subjects (65-74 yrs) exhibited better, but still inadequate, proprioceptive control with compensatory visual stabilization. Gender differences appeared in older subjects: women were significantly less stable than men. The measurement of the sensory components of single stance stability could aid in the early detection of a decay in antigravity movements many years before the risk of falling becomes evident. Adequate proprioceptive control could mitigate the effects of all other risks of falling.