Lim (2014) The Influence of Short-term Aquatic Training on Obstacle Crossing in Gait by the Elderly

Impact of Aquatic Training on Elderly Mobility

The study conducted by Hee Sung Lim and Sukhoon Yoon investigates the benefits of a 12-week aquatic training program on the elderly’s ability to safely navigate obstacles, a common cause of falls. The training aimed to improve the gait stability and obstacle-crossing capability of ten elderly participants, enhancing their overall mobility and reducing fall risks.

Methodology and Participant Profile

Participants underwent a comprehensive 12-week aquatic exercise regimen, monitored through advanced 3-D motion analysis. The average participant profile included individuals aged 77.15 years, with a height of 149.87 cm and a body mass of 57.44 kg. The program’s design catered to the elderly’s physical capacities, focusing on improving lower limb muscle strength and balance.

Significant Findings and Training Effects

Post-training analysis revealed substantial improvements in key gait stability parameters, indicating enhanced safety during obstacle crossing. Notably, the training led to significant increases in toe clearance (TC), heel clearance (HC), and maximum vertical heel clearance (MVHC), alongside a quicker crossing velocity (CV). These improvements suggest a safer and more stable gait pattern, crucial for fall prevention.

Discussion on Aquatic Training Benefits

The study underscores the efficacy of aquatic training in bolstering lower limb muscle strength and balance, thereby aiding the elderly in overcoming obstacles more safely. The buoyancy of water reduces joint stress, making aquatic exercises particularly suitable for the elderly with weaker physical strength. This study highlights the potential of aquatic training as a practical and less strenuous alternative to traditional muscle strength training for fall prevention in the elderly.

Conclusions and Preventive Implications

The research concludes that a short-term aquatic training program can significantly improve the elderly’s ability to safely navigate height obstacles, a frequent fall hazard. By enhancing gait stability and obstacle-clearance capabilities, aquatic training emerges as a valuable tool in fall prevention strategies for the elderly population.

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