New Study Suggests Perturbation-Based Balance Training Prevents Falls

A research report in the May 2015 issue of Physical Therapy concludes perturbation-based balance training reduces fall risk among older adults and individuals with Parkinson disease.

Many factors contribute to increased risk for falls. A specific fall event ultimately occurs when an individual fails to recover from a loss of balance or postural perturbation. Postural perturbations can occur in daily life for a variety of reasons, including failure to control weight shifting during voluntary movement or experiencing a slip or trip while walking. Balance recovery reactions, such as swaying around the ankles or hips, taking a step or taking a handhold are executed rapidly to prevent a fall following postural perturbations. Individuals with impaired balance control and increased fall risk often show difficulty controlling these balance recovery reactions. Because all ambulatory individuals are at risk for experiencing a loss of balance during daily life, training to improve control of balance recovery reactions may be an effective means of preventing falls. Perturbation-based balance training incorporates exposure to repeated postural perturbatios to evoke rapid balance reactions, enabling the individual to improve control of these reactions with practice.