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Updated 31 October 2013

Preventing fall-related injuries in seniors

Exercise programmes meant to prevent falls in seniors may also help prevent injuries caused by falls.

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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.

More information

The US National Institute on Ageing has more about older adults and falls.

 

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