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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 321048, 5 pages
Research Article

A Pilot Study of Partial Unweighted Treadmill Training in Mobility-Impaired Older Adults

1Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA
2Aging Center/Pepper OAIC, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA
3Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA
4Division of Speech and Audiology, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA
5Pratt School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA

Received 12 April 2013; Accepted 7 January 2014; Published 19 February 2014

Academic Editor: Eva Widerstrom-Noga

Copyright © 2014 Matthew J. Peterson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Partial unweighted treadmill training is a potentially effective modality for improving fitness and function in frail elders. We tested the feasibility of partial unweighted treadmill training in older, mobility-impaired veterans. Methods. Eight mobility-impaired elders participated in partial unweighted treadmill training three times/week for twelve weeks. Outcome measures included gait speed, performance-oriented mobility assessment (POMA), eight foot up and go, and the SF-36 physical functioning short form. Results. There was significant improvement in treadmill walking time (+8.5 minutes; ), treadmill walking speed (+0.14 meters/second; ), and percent of body weight support (−2.2%; ). Changes in physical performance included usual gait speed (+0.12 meters/second; ), rapid gait speed (+0.13 meters/second; ), POMA (+2.4 summary score; ), and eight foot up and go (−1.2 seconds; ). Conclusions. Partial unweighted treadmill training is feasible in mobility-impaired elders. Improvements in treadmill training capacity resulted in clinically meaningful improvements in fitness levels and improved mobility.