Summer Undergraduate Research Mentored Experience

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Dr. Feng Yang

Department of Kinesiology

Vibration training for preventing falls among older adults

Preferred major field of study or minimum required skills

Majors related to Biomechanics, Kinesiology, Sports medicine, and Mechanical Engineering are qualified for this project. Computer programming skills will be a plus.

Scholarly significance/intellectual merit

Falls among older adults present a significant medical, societal, and economic challenge, affecting not only the frail or impaired, but the active and vigorous. Vibration therapy has been used to train seniors to improve their balance because it is easy-to-operate, safe, and cost-effective. However, it remains unknown if vibration training could indeed reduce falls among older adults. The overall purpose of this proposed project is to examine the effectiveness and feasibility of vibration training in preventing falls in elderly. Our project is scientifically and clinically significant. It will advance our understanding of vibration training in reducing falls in older population. If our results do support that vibration training can reduce falls among seniors, this type of training will provide another novel avenue to develop paradigms training older adults to reduce their likelihood of falls. As a result, the injuries and the incurred medical cost would decrease. The quality of life among older adults and their family will be improved. Our society will benefit as well.

Research question(s)

The overall objective is to systematically examine the effectiveness and feasibility of vibration training in preventing falls among elderly. Specifically, we will 1) determine if and to what extent an 8-week vibration training can reduce the likelihood of falls among older adults; and 2) determine the potential retention period of the training effect resulting from the vibration training.

Methods/techniques/instruments to be learned/utilized

Two groups (training vs control) will participate. The training group will go through an 8-week vibration training course while the control group does not. An side alternating vibration platform will produce vibration stimulation to the body when subjects stand on the platform. After the training, both groups will be exposed to a simulated slip perturbation created by a treadmill.