Background: Older adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have lower balance confidence and a higher risk and fear of falling. This may lead to fear of falling avoidance behaviors (FFAB). It has been shown that balance training may attenuate fall risk, but it is unclear how balance task performance and learning is associated with FFAB.

Methods: Participants included in the study were greater than 50 y.o., with or without T2DM, able to walk 50m, and able to stand for 5 min. FFAB was assessed using a 14-item questionnaire (FFABQ). Balance task performance was measured using a stabilometer, a wooden platform connected to a single axis to allow for bidirectional sway and a potentiometer to measure rotation of the board (±18° maximum). Participants underwent 3 days of balance training, each of which consisted of at least ten, 30 second trials. Participants were encouraged to keep the board in balance, defined as ±5° from the midline, and time in balance (TIB) was the primary outcome measure for each trial. Statistical analysis was done by independent sample T-tests through IBM SPSS software.

Results: To date, data collection has been completed for 37 patients, 17 with T2DM and 20 without. T2DM participants had a significantly higher FFABQ score than controls (12.41 ± 14.22 vs 2.59 ± 4.22; p = 0.006). The T2DM group had significantly lower TIB than the control group on day 1 (6.16 ± 1.89 vs 8.91 ± 3.05; p=0.001) and day 3 (8.099 ± 2.91 vs 12.28 ± 4.69; p=0.001). However, there was no statistically significant difference in balance task improvement between T2DM and controls (34.1% ± 34.4 vs 32.5% ± 39.5; p = 0.447). Similarly, there was a significant negative correlation between FFABQ scores and day 1 stabilometer performance but no correlation between FFABQ and balance task improvement [(day 3-day 1)/day 1)].

Conclusions: These results suggest that T2DM participants exhibited greater FFAB and poorer balance performance; however, with training they are still able to improve at the same rate as control participants.


K.Habashi: None. T.Iida: None. B.Yee: None.

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