Robotic balance assessment in community-dwelling older people with different grades of impairment of physical performance

Abstract

Background

Impaired physical performance is common in older adults and has been identified as a major risk factor for falls. To date, there are no conclusive data on the impairment of balance parameters in older subjects with different levels of physical performance.

Aims

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between different grades of physical performance, as assessed by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), and the multidimensional balance control parameters, as measured by means of a robotic system, in community-dwelling older adults.

Methods

This study enrolled subjects aged ≥ 65 years. Balance parameters were assessed by the hunova robot in static and dynamic (unstable and perturbating) conditions, in both standing and seated positions and with the eyes open/closed.

Results

The study population consisted of 96 subjects (62 females, mean age 77.2 ± 6.5 years). According to their SPPB scores, subjects were separated into poor performers (SPPB < 8, n = 29), intermediate performers (SPPB = 8–9, n = 29) and good performers (SPPB > 9, n = 38). Poor performers displayed significantly worse balance control, showing impaired trunk control in most of the standing and sitting balance tests, especially in dynamic (both with unstable and perturbating platform/seat) conditions.

Conclusions

For the first time, multidimensional balance parameters, as detected by the hunova robotic system, were significantly correlated with SPPB functional performances in community-dwelling older subjects. In addition, balance parameters in dynamic conditions proved to be more sensitive in detecting balance impairments than static tests.

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Funding

There was no external source of funding for this research.

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Correspondence to Alberto Cella.

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Conflict of interest

A.D.L., V.S., J.S. and C.S. are employees of Movendo Technology (Genova, Italy). S.P. is a consultant for Movendo Technology (Genova, Italy).

Research involving human participants and/or animals

The study conforms to the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki, which protects research subjects, and was approved by the ethics committee of the regional health authority (reference number: 169REG2016).

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All subjects involved in the study signed the informed consent form.

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Cella, A., De Luca, A., Squeri, V. et al. Robotic balance assessment in community-dwelling older people with different grades of impairment of physical performance. Aging Clin Exp Res 32, 491–503 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-019-01395-0

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Keywords

  • Physical function
  • Physical performance
  • Balance
  • Assessment
  • Robotic device