Using a Motor Imagery Training Program to Reduce Fall Risk Among the Elderly
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Falls contribute to the elderly’s highest number of unintentional injuries. Clearly, falling has significant implications in our aging population. Reach movements typically performed by the elderly are linked with fall incidence. There is a problem with the elderly mentally representing intended actions such as reaching and fall risk. Furthermore, a motor imagery training program is believed to improve motor planning and reduce fall risk. The purpose of this study was to determine if a reach-specific motor imagery training program could improve reach planning and potentially reduce fall risk. The present study involved a group of 23 older adult participants, aged 65-81 years, recruited from South Texas. Participants were divided into three groups: a control group (Group 1) consisting of 9 participants, and two intervention groups categorized by age, Group 2 (65 to 73 years) and Group 3 (74 to 81 years). The intervention groups were administered a reach-specific imagery training program three days a week over the course of 4 weeks. Participants were pre- and post-tested on estimation of reach via use of motor imagery in three conditions: seated, standing-on-2-feet, and standing-on-1-foot. The main hypothesis of this study was that motor imagery training will have a positive influence on reach-estimation, therefore improving motor planning and potentially reducing fall risk. Results indicated that the hypothesis was supported, showing that after training, participants that received the intervention significantly improved their reach estimation, p < .05, whereas the Group 1’s scores did not change significantly. No noticeable difference was seen between the two intervention groups or between reach conditions. These findings suggest that motor imagery training has promise as an effective tool in reducing fall risk among the elderly.
Fox, Ashley Elizabeth (2015). Using a Motor Imagery Training Program to Reduce Fall Risk Among the Elderly. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from