The relationship of muscular strength and balance on work performance measures in high school students with mental retardation
Smail, Karen Mary
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a balance and strength training program on physical functioning and work performance of individuals with mental retardation. Ten students with mental retardation were matched according to gender, age, height, and weight then randomly assigned to the treatment or control group. The treatment group participated in a 12 week balance and strength training program while the control group participated in low intensity recreational games. Isometric strength and work performance measures were collected at three intervals throughout training 6 weeks apart, with a retention measure collected 6 weeks past training. Balance measures were collected at pre and post intervals. Work performance measures included: box stacking (timed repetitions), pail carry (timed distance), dolly cart push (timed distance), and sack carry (speed). Peak isometric muscular strength was assessed bilaterally using a hand held dynamometer at the following sites: elbow flexion and extension, knee flexion and extension, and shoulder abduction. Balance tasks were performed using the Balance Master, with the following tasks being measured: sensory organization test, weight bearing squat, step up and over, and weight bearing squat over 15 repetitions. Based on a randomized complete block design with repeated measures, a significant difference between the post to pre test was calculated on all vocational tasks; box stacking F(1,4) = 20.39, p<.005; pail carry F(1,4) = 13.06, p< .01; dolly cart push F(1,4) = 112.64, p< .002; and sack carry F(1,4) = 4.02, p< .05 with the treatment group displaying higher percent gains (32.05%) over the 12 weeks then the control group (13.36%). In addition, all isometric strength measures indicated a significant difference between groups with the treatment group increasing on average 50.42% while the control group increased 9.82%. Retention measures indicated decreases on work performance and isometric strength for both groups. Each group improved balance scores along with producing more symmetrical weight distribution throughout movement activities. Based on the data analysis it was concluded that participation in a balance and strength training program was effective in increasing physical functioning and work related skills which can facilitate the school to work transition process.