Home exercise programme reduces risk of falling

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exercise fall, balance fall, physiotherapy, fall preventionGentle exercises at home can reduce falls in older people by over one-third, according to results of a trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And cognitive function may improve too.

A total of 344 adults aged 70 years and older who had a history of falling and symptoms of frailty and limited mobility were asked to perform balance and resistance training exercises in the comfort of their homes, a minimum of three times a week.

Over the course of six months, a physiotherapist made five home visits to prescribe exercises and ensure that exercises were done properly.

For those who completed the program, the results were notable; they were less likely to experience repeat falls, and improved in some markers of cognitive function.

“It is well known that exercise benefits older people in general, but what was special about this study group was that they are at very high risk for losing their independence – they had both mobility and cognitive impairments and another fall may mean the inability to live in their own homes,” explains Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose, who led the work. “Many already had difficulty navigating public spaces independently. Older adults who experience falls that require medical attention falls are medically complex and at high risk for both morbidity and mortality, and we demonstrated that exercise is a practical and cost-effective intervention that can improve older peoples’ outcomes after a significant fall.”

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