Feasibility of a 4-Week Manual Therapy and Exercise Intervention on Posture and Function in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Pilot Study

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Background and Purpose: Thoracic hyperkyphosis is a common condition that progresses with aging and has been associated with impaired functional performance, increased risk of falls, and even mortality. Previous studies to improve posture primarily used exercise for durations of 3 months or longer. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the feasibility of a manual therapy intervention in community-dwelling older adults over a 4-week time frame that is comparable to the typical clinical setting, to test the appropriateness and procedures for the measurement of posture and function in the older population with hyperkyphosis, and to collect preliminary data to describe change in posture and function measures. Methods: Twenty-four participants with hyperkyphosis or forward head posture were recruited, and 22 participants completed this pilot study. Feasibility was measured based on attendance, tolerance, safety, and retention. Issues with measurement procedures were recorded. The intervention included manual therapy and exercise 3 times a week for 4 weeks to target spinal and peripheral joint stiffness, muscle lengthening, and muscle activation. Outcomes included height, kyphotic index (KI), Block Test, Acromion to Table (ATT), Timed Up and Go (TUG), 5 times sit-to-stand (5XSTS), Functional Reach (FR), 2-minute walk test (2MWT), and Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS). Data collected at visits 1, 6, and 12 were analyzed using 1-way repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance. Results and Discussion: Measurement and intervention protocols were found to be feasible. A significant effect for the aggregate dependent variables change over time was found. Univariate analysis of each dependent variable showed significance except for FR. All postural measures (height, KI, Block Test, and ATT) significantly improved statistically. The KI and ATT exceed the minimal detectable change for clinical significance. Function showed statistical improvements in the TUG, 5XSTS, 2MWT, and PSFS. Clinical significance was reached with the PSFS. Seven of 9 measures showed a statistically significant change in just 2 weeks. Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that manual therapy and exercise applied to older adults shows promise for improvement in measures of posture and functional performance in a clinically feasible 4-week time frame.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geriatric Physical Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • aged
  • functional performance
  • hyperkyphosis
  • joint mobilization
  • posture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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