Obstacle course training can improve mobility and prevent falls in people with intellectual disabilities
SourceJournal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58, 5, (2014), pp. 485-92
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
BACKGROUND: Persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) constitute a special-needs population at high risk of falling. This is the first study to evaluate whether obstacle course training can improve mobility and prevent falls in this population. METHODS: The intervention was implemented as part of an institution-wide health care improvement plan aimed at reducing falls at a residential facility for people with ID. It comprised an annual screening of each resident for his or her individual fall risk. Subsequently, the group of ambulatory persons with a moderate to high fall risk (n = 39) were offered 10-session obstacle course training to improve their balance and gait abilities. Mobility was assessed pre-intervention, mid-term and post-intervention with the Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment (POMA), the Timed Up and Go (TUG) and the 10-meter walking test. The number of falls was compared between the year before and after intervention. RESULTS: The number of falls decreased by 82% (P < 0.001). POMA scores significantly improved from pre-intervention to mid-term (mean difference +/- SD, 1.8 +/- 2.9, P = 0.001), from mid-term to post-intervention (2.0 +/- 2.9, P < 0.001), and from pre-intervention to post-intervention (3.8 +/- 4.3, P < 0.001). Participants completed the 10-meter walking test faster at the post-intervention compared with the pre-intervention assessment (difference +/- SD, 2.1 +/- 5.1 s, P = 0.022). TUG scores did not improve significantly. CONCLUSIONS: The present study provides preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of obstacle course training in improving mobility and preventing falls in people with ID. As falls are a significant health concern in this population, further research is advocated to provide conclusive evidence for the suggested beneficial effects of exercise interventions.
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