, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 400-405
Date: 25 Jul 2013

The effect of structured strength and balance training on cognitive function in frail, cognitive impaired elderly long-term care residents

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Background and aims: The aim of the study was to assess the effect of structured strength and balance training on cognitive function in frail, geriatric, long-term care facility residents, aged 75 years or older, and additionally to evaluate the influence of training on various functional, physical and psychological parameters. Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to a training group or a control group. Physical training was performed three times a week for ten weeks in the training group. Muscle function was assessed by manual examination on a scale of 0–5. Cognitive function was tested with the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). In addition, scores for activities of daily living, mobility and depression were assessed. Results: 30 subjects with a mean age of 86.8 years completed the study. After 10 weeks of intervention in the training group, muscle strength increased from a mean of 3.75 to 4.44 points (p<0.001) and the mean MMSE score increased from 20.9 to 23.9 points (p=0.023). In the training group,the change in the MMSE score correlated significantly with change in muscle function, with a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.750 (p=0.002). An increase in mean BMI from 23.8 to 25.0 kg/m2 (p=0.013) was also found in the training group, but no significant changes in scores for activities of daily living, mobility or depression. Compared with the control group, the change in the mean scores over the ten-week training period was significantly higher for the trained group with regard to muscle scores, BMI and lean body mass, but not for MMSE scores. Conclusions: Our findings reinforce the recommendation that structured strength and balance training should be implemented in long-term care facilities. Besides the well-known benefits of physical training, our findings showed that an improvement in cognitive function may also be possible.