A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the risk of falling, and the risk of being injured through a fall, is significantly higher among adults with arthritis. The reason for this is poor neuromuscular function (gait speed and balance), which is common among those with arthritis.
The findings are based on data from a 2012 telephone survey of interviews with over 300,000 people aged over 45 living across 50 US states and showed that within a 12 month period adults with arthritis were:
- 2.4 times more likely to have two or more falls
- 2.5 times more likely to sustain a fall-related injury
The CDC states that although prevalence of falls and fall injuries is high among adults with arthritis, it can be addressed through greater dissemination of arthritis management and fall prevention programs in clinical and community practice. Combining arthritis exercise programs with proven fall prevention intervention might reduce the risk for falls in this at-risk population, however, it recommends further research into evaluating evidence-based arthritis interventions for their effects on falls and vice-versa.
For example, while Tai Chi has been proven for its effectiveness in the primary prevention of falls, and ability to improve neuromuscular function, the effects on arthritis-specific outcomes are still being evaluated; therefore, Tai Chi is not currently endorsed for use within CDC-funded state arthritis programs. Equally, existing arthritis physical activity interventions, especially EnhanceFitness and Fit and Strong, might reduce the risk for falls and fall injuries but have not yet been evaluated for these outcomes.
This research was originally published in the 2 May 2014 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Click here to read the full article.