Effectiveness of a Novel Implementation of the Otago Exercise Program in Rural Appalachia

Gabrielle Scronce, Wanqing Zhang, Matthew Lee Smith, Karen Leigh McCulloch, Vicki Stemmons Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Despite evidence that falls can be prevented with specific exercise interventions such as the Otago Exercise Program (OEP), translation of these programs into practice is limited in rural and medically underserved areas. The Community Health and Mobility Partnership (CHAMP) addresses this problem through a community-based implementation of the OEP in rural Appalachia where medical resources are scarce. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the CHAMP on physical performance and balance confidence in community-dwelling older adults. Methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of quasi-longitudinal data. Older adults received fall screenings at local senior centers. Those with increased fall risk received individualized OEP home exercises and were advised to return for monthly follow-up visits. Three physical performance measures - Timed Up and Go test (TUG), Four-Stage Balance Test (4SBT), and chair rise test (CRT) - and the Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale (ABC) were assessed at the initial visit (IV) and each follow-up visit. Two groups were created to distinguish participants who returned for their second follow-up (F2) visit within 3 months from those who returned between 3 and 6 months. Within-group change from IV to F2 was calculated using repeated-measures t tests. Repeated-measures 2-way analyses of variance were used to test for main and interaction effects of group and visit. Results and Discussion: One hundred thirty CHAMP participants aged 76.1 (SD = 8.1) years demonstrated statistically and clinically significant improvements in the 3 physical performance measures (mean 4SBT: IV 29.5 seconds, F2 31.5 second, P =.001), (mean TUG: IV 12.7 seconds, F2 11.9 seconds, P =.021), (mean CRT: IV 0.258 stands/second, F2 0.290 stands/second, P =.002), but not in balance confidence (mean ABC: IV 62.2, F2 64.4, P =.154). A significant interaction of group by visit for the TUG was observed, suggesting that better TUG performance was associated with quicker return for follow-up. Conclusions: Results indicated that program participants improved from IV to F2 in measures related to fall risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geriatric Physical Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Otago Exercise Program
  • community-based
  • exercise
  • fall prevention
  • falls
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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