2012 Volume 15 Issue 1 Pages 15-20
Background: Strength of the trunk muscles is a key component of motor control, but it declines easily with the process of aging and/or disuse. Objectives: To investigate the effects of surface electrical stimulation (ES) to the abdominal muscles and the motor performance for care-needing elderly. Design: Controlled trial. Participants: Twenty-one elderly people (60-90 years) with care-needing, who were admitted to a nursing home or hospital for daily care and their score of Barthel Index had been stable from 55.3 ± 19.4 to 55.3 ± 19.8 during 3 months before intervention. Intervention: Common physical/occupational therapy was performed for all of the subjects during the study period. ES was applied to the abdomen of 15 subjects (ES group) twice a day for 8 weeks. Measurements: Functional measurements were performed before and after beginning of the study with some parameters as follows: grip strength; movement time for sitting up (MSU); maximum walking speed (WS). Results: No significant differences between two groups were noted for characteristics at baseline. In the ES group, MSU (from 21.1 ± 21.4 to 10.4 ± 8.3 sec) significantly improved (p < 0.05) after 8weeks. WS (from 17.7 ± 12.1 to 24.3 ± 15.3 m/min) were also improved (p < 0.05) after 8 weeks. Limitations: A limitation of this study was the small sample size. Conclusions: ES to the abdominal area has the potential to improve motor function in the care-needing elderly through reinforcement of the abdominal muscles.