Kinesiology & Physical Education
“Change-in-support” balance-recovery reactions that involve rapid stepping or reaching movements play a critical role in preventing falls. Recent geriatrics studies have led to new interventions to improve ability to execute these reactions effectively. Some of these interventions have the potential to reduce fall risk for younger persons working in industrial settings. In this paper, we review research pertaining to two such interventions: 1) balance-enhancing footwear insoles designed to improve stepping reactions, and 2) proximity-triggered handrail cueing systems designed to improve reach-to-grasp reactions. The insole has a raised ridge around the perimeter that is intended to improve balance control by providing increased stimulation of sensory receptors on the footsole in situations where loss of balance may be imminent. The cueing system uses flashing lights and/or verbal prompts to attract attention to the handrail and ensure that the brain registers its location, thereby facilitating more rapid and accurate grasping of the rail if and when sudden loss of balance occurs. Results to date support the efficacy of both interventions in geriatric populations. There is also some evidence that these interventions may improve balance control in younger persons; however, further research is needed to confirm their efficacy in preventing falls in industrial settings.
Maki, Brian E.; Perry, Stephen D.; Scovil, Carol Y.; Peters, Amy L.; McKay, Sandra M.; Lee, Tracy A.; Corbeil, Philippe; Fernie, Geoff R.; and McIlroy, William E., "Interventions to Promote More Effective Balance-Recovery Reactions in Industrial Settings: New Perspectives on Footwear and Handrails" (2008). Kinesiology and Physical Education Faculty Publications. 27.