Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Exercise program and special weighted back support improves balance in elderly


By wearing a unique weighted back support device and participating in a special exercise program, women over 60 with osteoporosis-caused curvature of the spine improved their balance and experienced diminished back pain, giving researchers at Mayo Clinic a promising therapy to reduce falls among this population.

Falls present a serious risk of injury in the older population. Falls also can lead to permanent lifestyle changes, such as hospitalization, long-term rehabilitation and the inability to function independently, which can cause further declines in health.

Within four weeks in the study, the researchers noted significant changes in balance and gait. They also recorded back extensor strength improvements and significant decrease in back pain. Mayo Clinic researchers present their findings in the July 2005 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"Most studies of falls address the effects of sedatives, weakness of the lower extremity muscles and neuromuscular diseases," says Mehrsheed Sinaki, M.D., of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. "What we wanted to see in this study was the effects of intervention to shift the center of gravity, and improve back strength and gait."

The Mayo Clinic researchers studied women in community-dwelling settings over age 60. Past studies have shown that community-dwelling people have a higher risk of falls and fractures than persons whose mobility is severely restricted. Twelve women in the study suffered from kyphosis, a progressive curvature of the spine that includes severe, progressive muscle weakness. Kyphosis causes a stooping posture. Their risk of falls and balance were studied and compared with a group of 13 women without this condition.

A fall is a biomechanical event, in that an external force -- gravity -- destabilizes the body’s alignment of the torso over the legs. A fall occurs when the center of gravity of the person’s trunk moves outside the base of support provided by the feet against the floor. The center of gravity is the imaginary point at which all the weight of the torso can be considered concentrated. If the base moves outside the base of support, a fall will occur.

At the start of the four-week comparison period, the two groups exhibited significant differences, but as the women with curvature of the spine continued the program, they showed improvements in balance, gait and back pain. The women used a weighted kypho-orthosis (WKO), a specially weighted back support device that centers its weight on the posterior of the spine and helps the person center her body better over her legs. It can weigh between 1.75 and 2.5 pounds, centered below the shoulder blades. A patient’s doctor determines the best weighting and placement of the device.

Along with Dr. Sinaki, the principal investigator, Mayo Clinic researchers contributing to this study included Robert Brey, Ph.D., Christine Hughes, Dirk Larson and Kenton Kaufman, Ph.D.

In an editorial in the July Proceedings, Allan Tencer, Ph.D., of the Department of Orthopedics at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, writes that the Mayo Clinic study "provides an excellent example of how an understanding of basic biomechanics can serve as a foundation for improving patient care."

Further research is now needed to determine the feasibility of using this intervention in large populations of patients with kyphosis, says Dr. Tencer.

"The report validates using the WKO and a dynamic exercise program to improve biomechanics in persons with kyphosis," says Dr. Tencer. "This, in turn, can reduce the possibility of the person falling and prevent the downstream, potentially life-altering consequences of falling."

John Murphy | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>