What is the most cost effective, light-weight device I can use as an unstable surface to train older adults in their homes?
I will soon be training older adults in their homes and I know for most fall prevention is the number one priority. I want something that will hold up well, be easy to clean, and light weight enough that I can get it in and out of my car multiple times a day with ease.
I am operating on the assumption that you have assessed the necessity of adding an unstable surface for balance training. I would not add such challenge until an older adult has demonstrated to me that s/he can balance on one leg on the floor and do split stances without any risk of falling.
The two devices that I use myself and that fit your requirements are an Airex pad and a Dynadisc.
We all know that falling is more prevalent in certain populations.
I would suggest focusing on muscle strength and also on standing in a variety of ways so as to change the base of support.
I also like to work in opposition with my older clientele, sometimes I have them pick a foot up off the ground, sometimes have them lower their eye lids.
I work all planes of the body and prepare them to "anticipate' what's coming ahead.
Lawrence Biscontini has great input about this very topic
Check him out
A bosu is great for tapping and walking around, it doesn't have to be used to stand on.
Unless the older client is very capable, I would stay away from the more advanced balance work. The least expensive is to have them close their eyes when they have mastered the balance move. A safer alternative to an unstable surface could be a pillow that the client owns; no work on your part.
However if they have been properly assessed and are still at an age and physical ability level that allows them to do regular body weight exercises (like squats and lunges) you can have them stand on pillows or sponges. Most people will not be comfortable closing their eyes while exercising at any age.
Once you find where your client's strength and weakness are you will be in a position to make decisions based upon the results of the assessments.
Always perform a postural screening before any exercise programming. One leg exercises can be useful, perhaps with hands placed on a wall. And for a progression, try a foam roller, pretty inexpensive, and performing Myofascial Release and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF).
Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding programming.
The Airex and DynaDiscs will help improve balance
I agree with the people who question unstable surfaces with an elderly population. Many elderly people have trouble achieving balance on a stable surface; an unstable surface can cause more problems than it solves.
I also agree that each client should be assessed (and, if necessary, provided with a physican's apporval of what exercises are appropriate).
You may have to start with training their balance on a stable surface (make sure the clients have a sturdy item to hold on to for their balance).