Authors: Montgomery CA, Allen CM, Farber SD, Farber MO
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There is limited quantitative research in the field of somatic education. This pilot study aimed to assess the physical and psychological benefits, if any, of a relatively new somatic education program called Bones for Life®.
Methods: Twenty-five participants, with a mean age of 73, attended a 90-minute Bones for Life class once a week for six weeks. Participants completed a general health questionnaire and the SF-36v2® Health Survey (https://www.qualitymetric.
Results: Two movement tasks used to assess dynamic balance, the 360° Turn Test (p=0.006) and the 20-Second Step Test (p=0.001), demonstrated the most sensitivity to change. Changes in Quality-of-life measures were found to be statistically significant using the SF-36v2® Health Survey in Vitality (p=0.026) and General Health (p=0.029). Post-intervention interviews revealed improved physical function, posture, and balance.
Conclusion: This pilot study exhibited positive effects among community-dwelling seniors with diverse physical capabilities and medical challenges. Participants improved function and balance with minimal expense after six weeks of Bones for Life classes. Evidence suggests that Bones for Life increases the stability of an organized single-leg stance during movement and successfully carries over into more challenging tasks requiring a smaller support base, like walking, turning, reaching, and climbing. Participation in Bones for Life classes positively influences the quality of life indicators like peace, happiness, calmness, and increased energy. The outcomes suggest that the Bones for Life program may be a safe, feasible, and effective way for seniors to improve their function. This pilot study calls for funding and a footprint for further investigation. It also highlights the need to research alternative approaches to movement and activities used to improve function and balance that meet the demands of the aging population and complement the current medical model.