What is the role of balance training in the treatment of osteoporosis?

Updated: Jan 20, 2021
  • Author: Rachel Elizabeth Whitaker Elam, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The physical therapist must address balance training, because fall prevention is important in reducing the risk of the clinically apparent manifestation of osteoporosis, fracture. Improving one's balance can significantly lower the risk of falling. Balance training incorporates the strengthening of various parts of the body (eg, trunk, legs), proprioception, and vestibular input. Several different exercises have been shown to be beneficial in patients with osteoporosis. [233, 234, 235, 236]

Tai chi chuan and specific physical therapy programs may be effective in improving balance and reducing falls. Wolf et al monitored 200 elderly community dwellers who received tai chi and computerized balance training. After a 15-week intervention, the authors documented decreased fear of falling responses. In addition, tai chi was shown to reduce the risk of multiple falls by 47.5%. [237]

Campbell et al monitored 233 elderly community dwellers randomized to an individually tailored physical therapy program in the home compared with usual care and an equal number of social visits. The authors found that after one year, the mean rate of falls was lower in the exercise group than in the control group (0.87 vs 1.34, respectively). In addition, after 6 months, persons in the exercise group had improved balance.

Other types of exercise training programs may also positively impact balance and strength. Carter et al demonstrated that osteoporotic women aged 65-75 years who underwent a 10-week community-based physical activity intervention program showed a trend toward improved static balance, dynamic balance, and knee extension strength, although the study failed to show a statistically significant reduction in these fall risk factors, likely due to limited power. [238]

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