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A randomized controlled pilot study of home-based step training in older people using videogame technology


Schoene, D and Lord, SR and Delbaere, K and Severino, C and Davies, TA and Smith, ST, A randomized controlled pilot study of home-based step training in older people using videogame technology, PLoS One, 8, (3) Article e57734. ISSN 1932-6203 (2013) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Schoene et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057734


Background: Stepping impairments are associated with physical and cognitive decline in older adults and increased fall risk. Exercise interventions can reduce fall risk, but adherence is often low. A new exergame involving step training may provide an enjoyable exercise alternative for preventing falls in older people.

Purpose: To assess the feasibility and safety of unsupervised, home-based step pad training and determine the effectiveness of this intervention on stepping performance and associated fall risk in older people.

Design: Single-blinded two-arm randomized controlled trial comparing step pad training with control (no-intervention).

Setting/Participants: Thirty-seven older adults residing in independent-living units of a retirement village in Sydney, Australia.

Intervention: Intervention group (IG) participants were provided with a computerized step pad system connected to their TVs and played a step game as often as they liked (with a recommended dose of 2-3 sessions per week for 15-20 minutes each) for eight weeks. In addition, IG participants were asked to complete a choice stepping reaction time (CSRT) task once each week.

Main Outcome Measures: CSRT, the Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA), neuropsychological and functional mobility measures were assessed at baseline and eight week follow-up.

Results: Thirty-two participants completed the study (86.5%). IG participants played a median 2.75 sessions/week and no adverse events were reported. Compared to the control group, the IG significantly improved their CSRT (F31,1  =  18.203, p < .001), PPA composite scores (F31,1  =  12.706, p  =  0.001), as well as the postural sway (F31,1  =  4.226, p =  0.049) and contrast sensitivity (F31,1  =  4.415, p  =  0.044) PPA sub-component scores. In addition, the IG improved significantly in their dual-task ability as assessed by a timed up and go test/verbal fluency task (F31,1  = 4.226, p  =  0.049).

Conclusions: Step pad training can be safely undertaken at home to improve physical and cognitive parameters of fall risk in older people without major cognitive and physical impairments.

Trial Registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611001081909.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Aged health care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Health related to ageing
UTAS Author:Smith, ST (Associate Professor Stuart Smith)
ID Code:85360
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:142
Deposited By:Health Sciences A
Deposited On:2013-07-02
Last Modified:2015-02-05
Downloads:342 View Download Statistics

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