Arch Support Use for Improving Balance and Reducing Pain in Older Adults

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Applied Nursing Research




Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of arch supports on balance, functional mobility, and pain in the back and lower extremity joints among older adults.

Design A single-factor within-subjects design was used.

Method A convenience sample of older adults formed a single group for fitting with arch supports. Balance, functional mobility, and self-reported pain in the back and lower extremities were measured without the arch supports, immediately after the insertion of the supports in the subjects' shoes, and after 6 weeks of arch support use.

Findings Sixty-seven older adults completed the study. The measures used indicated statistically significant improvements in scores for the Berg Balance Scale [Berg, K., Williams-Dauphinee, S., & Williams, J. I., (1995). The Balance Scale: Reliability assessment for elderly residents and patients with an acute stroke. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 27, 27–31] and functional mobility [Timed Up and Go test; Podsiadlo, D., & Richardson, S. (1991). The Timed “Up and Go”: A test of basic functional mobility for frail elderly persons. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 39, 142–148] as well as reduced back, foot, knee, and hip pain (p < .05). There was no statistically significant change in ankle pain (p > .05).

Implications Knowledge of interventions that enhance health and well-being is essential for nurses. Arch supports may provide improved balance and functional mobility while reducing back and lower extremity joint pains. Further research is needed to support evidence-based practice.