Playing catch helps prevent falls in the older adults

A new study has demonstrated that a simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the older adults.

ANI| Last Updated: Jan 11, 2015, 15:41 PM IST

Washington: A new study has demonstrated that a simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the older adults.

According to research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), when someone is jostled by a bump or a stumble, the brain uses two strategies to maintain balance and prevent a fall.

Alexander Aruin, professor of physical therapy at UIC, asserted that when the perturbation is predictable, for example, if when walking down the street one sees someone about to bump into them then one brace himself.

The second strategy is corrective i.e. the brain engages muscles after the perturbation to prevent us from losing our balance, which might involve taking an extra step, or changing body position.

The researchers measured the electrical activity of leg and trunk muscles to look for differences in the two age groups' ability to generate anticipatory postural adjustments both before and after the single short training session.

Training-related improvements were seen in both groups. In older adults, the researchers found that not only can they improve, but they also improve at performing a task that was not part of the training.

Aruin added that their group is the first to look at whether a specially designed rehabilitation protocol can enhance postural control adjustment and subsequently improve overall balance.

The study is published in two journals i.e. Electromyography and Kinesiology, and Experimental Brain Research.