Effects of High-Frequency Proprioceptive Training on Single Stance Stability in Older Adults: Implications for Fall Prevention

Dario Riva, Mara Fani, Maria Grazia Benedetti, Angelo Scarsini, Flavio Rocca, Carlo Mamo
BioMed Research International, vol. 2019, Article ID 2382747, 11 pages, 2019.

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.

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