Elevated heels and adaptation to new shoes in frail elderly women
Footwear is supposed to have influence on postural control and is a potential aspect to address in the prevention of falls in the elderly. This study aimed to show whether measurements of static balance and gait are different with habitual shoes compared to new special senior shoes with different heel height and whether these results change after adaptation. In a randomized controlled intervention study, 26 subjects (median age 87 years) were recruited from two nursing homes and one facility of assisted living. Measurements of static balance and gait were performed with habitual shoes and two types of new special senior shoes differing in heel height. Measurements were repeated after five weeks. There was no difference in static balance and gait with habitual shoes compared to either of the new footwear offered. Results of performance with higher heels were not different compared to lower heels. No further effect of adaptation after wearing a new shoe over five weeks could be demonstrated. With respect to static and dynamic balance, there seems to be a wide range of acceptable footwear as long as the heel height is below a critical value. A standardized shoe can be used in the assessment of balance because the effect of adaptation can be neglected.