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A feasibility and acceptability study on the use of a smartphone application to facilitate balance training in the ageing population

  • Papi, E
  • Chiou, S-Y
  • McGregor, A
Publication Date
Nov 17, 2020
Spiral - Imperial College Digital Repository
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Objectives This study aims to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of using an app-based technology to train balance in the older population. Design Prospective feasibility study. Setting The study was conducted in a university setting and participants’ homes. Participants Thirty-five volunteers ≥55 years old were recruited. Intervention Participants were asked to follow a balance exercise programme 7 days a week for 3 weeks using a phone application. Seventeen participants trained for a further 3 weeks. Outcome measures Postural sway measures during quiet standing with feet at shoulder width apart and feet together, one leg standing and tandem stance were measured at baseline, and at the end of the 3 and 6 training weeks; the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) assessed participants’ physical activity level before training; and app acceptability was recorded using a user experience questionnaire. Results Participants on the 3 and 6-week programme on average completed 20 (±5) and 38 (±11) days of training, respectively, and all scored moderate to high on the IPAQ. Between baseline and the 3-week assessments, statistically significant improvements were observed for anteroposterior sway, mediolateral sway, sway area during tandem stance, for anteroposterior sway during one leg standing and for sway area during feet together stance. Improvements were observed at 6 week compared with baseline but those between 3 and 6 weeks were not significant. Based on the questionnaire, participants reported that the app is an appropriate tool for balance training (77%), they reported benefits from the training (50%) and found it easy to fit it into daily routine (88%). Conclusion The high level of adherence and improvements observed in the analysed measures demonstrate the feasibility of using an app to train balance in moderately to highly physically active older participants. This demonstrates that given appropriate tools the older population is positive towards and receptive of digital interventions aimed to improve balance.

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