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Retention of Back Exercises: Determining the Optimal Number of Sessions for Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults

1 May 2000


There is a paucity of research regarding the length of time necessary to learn exercises and the impact age has on the time required to learn exercises. Twenty-four subjects, twelve elderly (ages 66-94) and twelve middle-aged (ages 29-44) subjects were taught four multi-step back exercises. Each subject was seen for two sessions a week and scored on their performance of the exercises at each session. Once each subject received 100% on the exercises or reached eight sessions, they were dismissed from the study. Eleven of the twelve middle-aged subjects were able to achieve 100% by session 2. In the elderly population, only four attained 100% by session 3 and five never reached 100% by session 8. The middle-aged group was able to learn the four exercises more quickly than the elderly subjects. In addition, the elderly population only made significant improvements during the first four sessions. The results of this study indicate that physical therapists need to dedicate about three to four sessions reviewing back exercises they prescribe to elderly patients and two sessions for the middle aged population. Due to the small sample size (n=24), it is difficult to generalize these results to the general population.


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