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Mohammed Althomali, Lori Ann Vallis, Susan J Leat; Does visual attention training improve balance and mobility in older adults?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):1495. doi: https://doi.org/.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Older adults have poorer performance on visual attention tasks, and a link between visual attention and balance and mobility has been shown. Since visual attention is trainable, we hypothesise that training older adults with a structured visual attention task will result in improved balance and mobility, reducing their risk for falls.
Older adults aged 70+ took part in the study (mean age 80.3 yrs ± 6). In this randomized clinical trial, 15 participants were randomly assigned to a visual attention training group and 15 to a control group. Visual attention training was undertaken with versions of a selective attention useful field of view test (UFV) and attended field of view (AFOV) test. The training sessions were 45 minutes duration, undertaken twice a week for three weeks. The outcome measures were sway using a force plate platform (AMTI AccuGAIT; 200 Hz), the mini Balance Evaluation Systems Test (mini-BESTest), the One Legged Stance test (OLST), the 5 Meter Walking test (5MWT) and the Sit to Stand test (STST). Statistical analyses on the above dependent variables included T tests and repeated measures ANOVA with two independent variables, training group and visit.
Visual processing significantly improved after training (p= 0.02). However, a repeated measures ANOVA (2x visits, 5x trials) showed no main effect of visit or group for any of the force plate platform parameters; medial lateral (ML) or anterior posterior (AP) center of pressure (CoP) standard deviation, ML and AP CoP max, ML and AP CoP range and the cumulative path length (p>0.1 in all cases). There was no significant difference in change over time between the groups (p>0.05). T-tests of the changes over time for the other balance and mobility assessment tools also showed no improvement after the visual attention training (Mini-BESTest, p=0.25: 5MWT p=0.28: OLST, p=0.31: STST, p=0.029).
It was found that there was no improvement in either mobility or balance after our visual processing training and no difference between the intervention and the control groups. We conclude that UFV and AFOV visual attention training alone is not effective to improve balance and mobility; a training programme that includes movement and visual attention may be needed to obtain improvement in balance and mobility.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.
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