The Effect of a 5-Week Wobble-Board Exercise Intervention on Ability to Discriminate Different Degrees of Ankle Inversion, Barefoot and Wearing Shoes: A Study in Healthy Elderly

Authors


Address correspondence to Gordon S. Waddington, PhD, Director Canberra Research Annexe, School of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney, Australia, PO Box 11, Woden ACT 2605, Australia. E-mail: g.waddington@fhs.usyd.edu.au

Abstract

Objectives: There is some evidence of an improvement in falls risk in the elderly after completing a wobble-board training program. This study examined the effects of wobble-board training on ability to discriminate between different extents of ankle inversion movements in a group of older subjects, tested wearing shoes and barefoot.

Design: A randomized, controlled, crossover pilot study.

Setting: Canberra region, Australia.

Participants: Twenty community-dwelling subjects aged 65 to 85 participated in this study; all were in good health with no known disorder of the musculoskeletal system.

Measurements: The accuracy with which subjects could identify a set of ankle inversion movements of different extents was measured, with testing conducted in an upright, weightbearing stance.

Intervention: The effects of a 5-week training program using a wobble board modified for data logging or a period of normal activity only were assessed. Subjects underwent an ankle movement discrimination test pre- and posttraining, with shoes on and off.

Results: Greater improvement in ankle movement discrimination capability was made in subjects who underwent wobble-board training than in subjects who did not train (F1,18=11.2, P=.003). Active movements at the ankle were also significantly better discriminated throughout when subjects were wearing shoes than when barefoot (F1,18=40.6, P=.001).

Conclusion: Training with a wobble board provides a simple in-home intervention that improves ability to differentiate between extent of movements into ankle inversion in subjects aged 65 and older. Research on trip and fall frequency after wobble-board use is needed before such training could be widely used.

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