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Researchers Investigate Best Fall Prevention Strategies

A large systematic review of fall prevention research finds that exercise and other strategies, such as home safety interventions, are effective ways to reduce seniors’ risk of falling.

Researchers analyzed data from 79,193 patients through 159 trials investigating various fall prevention strategies. They found that exercise programs consistently reduced the rate of falls, but some programs were better than others. Overall, multiple component exercise programs, which incorporate multiple types of exercise including strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance, reduced the rate of falls by 29 percent and the risk of falling by 15 percent. Multiple-component home-based exercise programs reduced the rate of falling by 32 percent and the risk of falling by 22 percent. Tai Chi reduced the rate of falls by 28 percent but did not reduce the risk of falling by a statistically significant amount.

Home safety assessments and modifications were also effective. These methods were most effective for those with a high risk of falling and when administered by an occupational therapist. Overall these assessments and modifications reduced the rate of falls by 19 percent and the risk of falling by 12 percent. 

Multifactorial interventions, which include an individualized risk assessment and implementation of patient specific strategies, reduced the rate of falls by 24 percent but did reduce the risk of falling. Cataract surgery, pacemakers, and gradual withdrawal from psychotropic medication were effective for certain populations, while cognitive behavioral interventions and vitamin D administration had little effect on most seniors.

Read the full results in the paper: “Interventions For Preventing Falls In Older People Living In The Community.”




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