Reduced mobility and falls are common among older adults. Balance retraining programs are effective in reducing falls and in improving balance and mobility. Noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation is a low-level electrical stimulation used to reduce the threshold for the firing of vestibular neurons via a mechanism of stochastic resonance.
This study aims to determine the feasibility of using noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation to augment a balance training program for older adults at risk of falls. We hypothesize that noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation will enhance the effects of balance retraining in older adults at risk of falls
In this 3-armed randomized controlled trial, community dwelling older adults at risk of falling will be randomly assigned to a noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation plus balance program (noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation group), sham plus balance program (sham group), or a no treatment group (control). Participants will attend the exercise group twice a week for 8 weeks with assessment of balance and gait pretreatment, posttreatment, and at 3 months postintervention. Primary outcome measures include postural sway, measured by center of pressure velocity, area and root mean square, and gait parameters such as speed, step width, step variability, and double support time. Spatial memory will also be measured using the triangle completion task and the 4 Mountains Test.
Recruitment began in November 2020. Data collection and analysis are expected to be completed by December 2022.
This study will evaluate the feasibility of using noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation alongside balance retraining in older adults at risk of falls and will inform the design of a fully powered randomized controlled trial.
New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12620001172998); https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=379944