Effectiveness of a Group Exercise Class vs. Home Exercise Program as a Follow-up to Physical Therapy for Older Adults with High Fall Risk

Martha Hinman (PT, DPT, EdD, MHEd, Professor and Chair, School of Physical Therapy, Anderson University, Greenville, SC, USA)
Patrice Hazen (PT, DPT, MA, GroupHab Physical Therapy and Wellness, Simpsonville, SC, USA)


This quasi-experimental study compared the results of a traditional model of physical therapy (PT) care to a PT wellness model known as GroupHab. The traditional model included discharge from PT with a home exercise program (HEP) to be self-administered with or without the addition of a community-based exercise program. The wellness model included participation in a PT-designed and supervised group exercise program (GroupHab class) in an outpatient clinical setting following discharge from PT. Independent t-tests were used to compare the number of falls, exercise frequency, and exercise duration between the two groups. A repeated measures, analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) compared changes in balance confidence scores both within and between groups, and a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) analyzed group differences across multiple quality of life ratings using the SF-20. All data were analyzed at the 0.05 alpha level using SPSS 24 statistical software. Our results showed a significantly greater reduction in recurrent falls among the GroupHab wellness group compared to the HEP group (t=2.811, p=0.009). The resulting odds ratio for subsequent falls was 2.2 among HEP participants and 0.2 among GroupHab participants. Exercise adherence was also greater for those who participated in the GroupHab class. They documented greater exercise frequency (t= -3.253, p=0.002) and more exercise minutes (t= -7.188, p<0.001) than those who participated in the HEP. When comparing changes in the participants’ balance confidence, we found an average increase of 5% among GroupHab participants compared to a 6% decrease among HEP participants (F=16.877, p<0.001, power=0.981). Although our multivariate analysis of the SF-20 scores revealed no significant difference overall (F=0.768, p=0.73), the univariate analyses showed significantly greater improvements among GroupHab participants in selected areas of physical function. These results suggest that at-risk older adults who are discharged into a functionally-based group exercise class are less likely to experience recurrent falls and are more likely to have more confidence in their balance than those who are discharged with a standard HEP and/or use of community-based exercise classes.


Fall prevention;Balance confidence;Exercise adherence;Quality of life ;Physical therapy ;Physiotherapy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jgm.v2i2.2310


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