European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 7, pp 1649–1661 | Cite as

Can older adults’ balance and mobility improve with visual attention training?

  • Mohammed M. AlthomaliEmail author
  • Lori Ann Vallis
  • Susan J. Leat
Original Article



We hypothesize that training older adults with a structured visual attention task will result in improved balance and mobility, potentially reducing their risk for falls.


Healthy older adults aged 70 + took part in the study (mean age 80.3 ± 6 years). In this randomised control trial (NCT02030743), 15 participants were randomly assigned to a visual attention training group and 15 to a control group. Visual attention training was undertaken twice a week (45 min sessions) for 3 weeks (= six sessions) using versions of a selective attention useful field of view test and attended field of view test. The outcome measures were postural sway using a force plate, the Mini-Balance Evaluation Systems Test, the One-Legged Stance test, the 5 Meter Walking test, the Sit to Stand test, the Timed Up and Go test without and with a concurrent cognitive task.


There was a greater improvement in visual attention after training in the intervention group compared to the control group (p < 0.01). However, a mixed ANOVA (2× groups, 2× visit) showed no main effect of visit or group or any interaction for any of the force plate parameters. T tests of the changes over time between the intervention group and the control groups for the other balance and mobility assessment tools showed no improvement after the visual attention training.


It was found that there was no improvement in either mobility or balance after the visual attention training and no difference between the intervention and the control groups.


Ageing Balance Falls Mobility Visual attention 



One-Legged Stance test


5 Meter Walking test


Sit to Stand test


Timed Up and Go test


Timed Up and Go test with a cognitive task


Useful field of view


Attended field of view



We would like to acknowledge Jeff Hovis and Denise Hileeto for their guidance with the project and Mansour Alghamdi for helping with data collection of the subjective measures of balance data. This project was supported by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau (SACB), Canada and the College of Applied Medical Sciences Research Centre and the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University. We would like to acknowledge Jeff Hovis and Denise Hileeto for their guidance with the project and Mansour Alghamdi for helping with data collection of the subjective measures of balance data. The authors extend their appreciation to the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau (SACB), Canada, the College of Applied Medical Sciences Research Centre and the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University for funding this research.

Author contribution statement

MA, LV, and SL conceived and designed research. MA was responsible for data acquisition, analysis and write up. LV and SL provided critical feedback and helped shape the research, analysis, and manuscript.


This study was funded by the Saudi cultural bureau (SACB) Ottawa, Canada, the College of Applied Medical Sciences Research Centre and the Deanship of Scientific Research at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for funding this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All study procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the present study.

Supplementary material

421_2019_4153_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Optometry and Vision ScienceUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, College of Biological ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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