Exercise programmes meant to prevent falls in seniors may
also help prevent injuries caused by falls, according to a new review.
Fall-related injuries are common among seniors and a major
cause of long-term pain and disability. They also increase the risk of having
to go to a nursing home and have a high economic cost.
The new findings, published online in the journal bmj.com,
suggest that "reducing the risk of falling and improving protective
responses during a fall may be an important and feasible means of preventing
fractures and other serious injuries in the elderly," the study authors
wrote in a journal news release.
Well-designed exercise programmes can prevent falls in
seniors living at home, but there is a lack of evidence on whether such
programmes can help prevent fall-related injuries, said French researchers
Fabienne El-Khoury and colleagues.
In this review, they analysed 17 studies that looked at
whether fall-prevention exercises lowered seniors' risk of fractures and other
injuries caused by falls. More than 4 000 participants were involved in all.
Tai Chi was the exercise in two of the studies, but most of
them used gait, balance, strength and functional training, which involves
workouts that help people do normal daily activities.
Most of the programmes reduced fall-related injuries and
appeared to significantly curb falls that lead to fractures, serious injuries
and medical care.
Balance training was emphasised in all of the exercises
that were effective in preventing falls, the researchers noted.
The US National Institute on Ageing has more about older
adults and falls.