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Balance training for teenagers with learning disabilities

What a study looking into the effects of balance training on young people with learning disabilities reveals

The growth spurt experienced during adolescence can cause teenagers with learning disabilities to experience unsteady gaits that affect mobility. Evidence suggests that balance training during adolescence can help improve this situation. This study, involving a randomised clinical trial, explored how balance training improves postural balance, gait and muscle strength.

Following an assessment period, 32 young people aged 14-19 were randomly allocated a place in either the control group or the balance training group. The training group was given an intensive programme of physical activity, including static balance training, leg-rising and coordination exercises to do twice weekly for 40 minutes over an 8-week period. Meanwhile, those in the control group attended school as usual. Both groups were reassessed for their balance, gait and strength following the training period.

The results show significant improvement in balance and strength in the group that had done the training. The researchers, however, identified shortcomings in the study. For example, some control group members will have undertaken physical activities, which may have had some bearing on the results. Furthermore, the study occurred over a relatively short period of time. Therefore, more research is needed, however it did reveal that some improvement occurs when young people with learning disabilities receive balance training.

Kyeongjin L et al (2016) Balance training improves postural balance, gait and functional strength in adolescents with intellectual disabilities: Single-blinded, randomised clinical trial.  Disability and Health Journal. 9, 3, 416-422. doi:10.1016/j.dhjo.2016.01.010

Journal Scan is compiled by Stacey Atkinson, learning disability nursing lead at the University of Huddersfield

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