The effects of safety flooring on sit-to-stand and quiet stance balance reactions in retirement home-dwellers
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Fall-related injuries in adults over the age of 65 pose an important public health issue especially with an increasing number of older adults living in retirement homes and nursing homes. Safety floors have been developed as an intervention to reduce the risk of these injuries. However, their effects on balance control reactions had never been tested during certain activities of daily living in retirement home dwellers. This research investigated how balance reactions are affected by the mechanical properties of safety flooring in older adults. The safety flooring showed minimal impact on the balance reactions while retaining force attenuation properties. There were two studies as part of this thesis. The purpose of the first study was to determine whether the Nintendo Wii Balance Board (WBB) can be used as an appropriate substitution for a force plate when measuring balance reactions during common tests used to assess balance in older adults. Specifically, I characterized the technical specifications of the WBB and compared them to those of the force plate, showing that the two devices yielded similar responses during balance measures of quiet stance. The second study investigated the effect of two traditional floors and three safety flooring systems on balance control mechanisms (based on changes in underfoot centre of pressure) during sit-to-stand and quiet stance tasks in retirement home-dwellers. The results of this study provided evidence supporting the potential for safety floors to reduce fall-related injury risk without impairing balance and mobility of users. Additional research may want to assess WBB performance during dynamic tasks involving shear forces. The results from this study supports prospective clinical investigations of pilot installations of safety flooring in retirement and nursing home settings to evaluate their real life effects on fall related injuries.