The Effects of Power Plate® Training on Fall Prevention in the Elderly


Study conclusions:

The present study, performed on a Power Plate® Next Generation (2004), shows that 1 year Power Plate® training in elderly persons resulted in reduced fall frequency and improvement of the response to surface rotations.

The aim of the study was to assess the effect of Power Plate® training on postural control and the prevention of falls in the elderly. The Power Plate® generates vibrations that activate sensory receptors in the body, in turn provoking reflexive muscle contractions in leg and trunk muscles (tonic vibration reflex). As both sensory and motor pathways are strongly stimulated during Power- Plate® training, it is hypothesised that 12 months of training might result in improved postural control.

A total of 220 healthy older individuals between 60 and 80 years of age participated in this study. The Power Plate group performed static and dynamic exercises (figure 1) on the Power Plate® for a period of 47 weeks, 3 times a week. Training load increased gradually according to the overload principle. The duration of one Power Plate® training sessions was maximum 40 min, including warming up and cooling down. The fitness group program consisted of cardiovascular, resistance, balance and flexibility excercises and lasted for approximately 1,5 hours.

Figure 1

The control group did not participate in any training during this period and were requested not to change their lifestyle. Postural control was evaluated before, after 6, and after 12 months. Using different test with moving platforms, disturbed vision and a moving visual surrounding.

Results:


This is the first randomized controlled study investigating control. The results suggest that Power Plate® training may contribute to improvements in some aspects of postural control in community dwelling individuals over 60 years of age.
Some of the test didn't show results or only in the most challenging condition (see figure 2). It is possible that some test were not challenging enough for healthy older persons to detect effects of training on postural sway with the healthy volunteers without any balance problems participated in this study.
The response to rotations improves in the toes up and toes down condition. In the toes up condition the sway energy scores (SES) were not different between the three groups although they were significant different in the toes down condition, with a significant improvement in the Power Plate® group between pre and 6 month test and pre and 12 month test. The SES of the fitness and control group showed no significant changes over time (figure 3).

Figure 2 & 3

Discussion and conclusions:


After one year of Power Plate® training fall frequency reduced on a moving platform in the most challenging condition. Also the response to surface rotations was improved. The positive effects of Power Plate® training on muscle strength seen in previous studies, its short training time and the encouraging trends seen in the present study, support the usage of the Power Plate® by older individuals to stay fit, healthy and prevent falls. This suggests that Power Plate® training – which reduces falls and because of that risk of injuries, broken bones or other physical problems - result in better anticipatory postural control.

As the present study shows that Power Plate® training in elderly women resulted in an improved (anticipatory) postural control, and previous studies have shown a strength and power increase, Power Plate® training seems to be a useful tool in fall prevention training for the elderly population.