, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 110-120

Why not use your own body weight to prevent falls? A randomized, controlled trial of balance therapy to prevent falls and fractures for elderly people who can stand on one leg for ≤15 s

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Abstract

Background

Maintaining or improving motor (balance) ability is essential to extending the healthy lifespan of elderly people, and developing effective and efficient strategies to prevent falls of elderly people is an urgent. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of balance exercise on fall and fracture prevention for elderly people with poor balance.

Methods

A 6-month, randomized controlled trial was conducted to verify whether one-leg standing with eyes open for a total of 1 min, three times a day (dynamic flamingo exercise) prevents falls and fractures. Setting and participants were elderly people ≥75 years of age and one-leg standing time ≤15.0 s living in their own home. They were visiting orthopaedic clinics for orthopaedic handicaps. Subjects with poor balance were allowed to hold on to something. If a subject’s lifted leg touched the ground during the exercise, they were allowed to lift it again and continue so that they stood on one leg for a total of 60 s.

Results

The dynamic flamingo exercise group (410 people; 86 men, 324 women) and the no exercise group (455 people; 78 men, 377 women) were compared. After dynamic flamingo exercise for 6 months, significant differences were seen in the increase in one-leg standing time with eyes open (men right/left, women right/left), in the improvement in independence in daily living (women), number of people who fell during the 6 months (women), and adverse events (women). The number of fractures was not significantly different for men or women.

Conclusions

Dynamic flamingo exercise prevents falls but no significant difference was demonstrated in fracture prevention in elderly women with poor balance.

Supported by a grant-in-aid from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare of Japan (grants H19-Choujyu Ippan-031).
An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00776-014-0531-5.