Physical activity interventions for adults who are visually impaired: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author: Sweeting J1,2, Merom D3, Astuti PAS2,4, Antoun M5, Edwards K6,7, Ding D6,2
Author Information:
1Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
2Prevention Research Collaboration, The University of Sydney School of Public Health, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia.
3Physical Activity and Health, Western Sydney University School of Science and Health, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia.
4Department of Public Health and Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Udayana, Bukit Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia.
5Sydney Dental School, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia.
6Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia.
7Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Cumberland, New South Wales, Australia.
Conference/Journal: BMJ Open.
Date published: 2020 Feb 12
Other: Volume ID: 10 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: e034036 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034036. , Word Count: 355

OBJECTIVES: Compared with sighted individuals, people with visual impairment have a higher prevalence of chronic conditions and lower levels of physical activity. This review aims to systematically review physical activity interventions for those with a visual impairment and to assess their effectiveness.

DESIGN: A systematic review of articles reporting physical activity interventions in visually impaired individuals was conducted. Medline, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, SPORTDiscus and the Physiotherapy Evidence Database were searched in August 2018. Meta-analyses were conducted on randomised controlled trials with the same outcome measure.

SETTING: Most interventions were conducted in a group setting, with some including an at-home, self-directed component.

PARTICIPANTS: Following identification of a recent systematic review of physical activity interventions in children, our review focused on adults aged 18 years and older with a visual impairment.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcomes included measures of balance, mobility, mental well-being (eg, quality of life), number of falls, muscle strength, flexibility and gait.

RESULTS: Eighteen papers from 17 studies met inclusion criteria. Physical activity components include falls prevention and/or balance-based activities, walking, tai chi, Alexander Technique, Yoga, dance, aerobics and core stability training. Significant results in favour of the intervention were reported most commonly in measures of functional capacity (9/17 studies) and in falls/balance-related outcomes (7/13 studies). The studies identified were generally small and diverse in study design, and risk of bias was high across several categories for most studies. Meta-analyses indicated non-significant effects of the included interventions on the Timed Up and Go, Chair Sit Test and Berg Balance Scale.

CONCLUSIONS: Physical activity interventions in individuals with visual impairment incorporating activities such as tai chi, Yoga and dance can have positive results, particularly in physical measures such as mobility and balance. However, when performing a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, the evidence for effectiveness is less clear. More studies with larger sample sizes, stronger designs and longer follow-up periods are needed.


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

KEYWORDS: preventive medicine; public health; sports medicine

PMID: 32051316 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034036