HUR (www.huruk.co.uk) provides evidence-based strength exercise machines/programmes and balance testing platforms to implement effective and measurable active ageing programs to promote independence, mobility, and fall prevention.
Comparison of balance and other physical characteristics between elderly fallers and non-fallers
This paper reports a retrospective study on differences between groups of elderly ”fallers” (F) and ”non-fallers” (NF). Participants (F: n = 37; NF: n = 58) were recruited among community dwelling home health care clients aged 65 or older. Participants were classified as ”fallers” (F) and ”non-fallers” (NF) based on their fall history. Static and dynamic balance tests were conducted using the HUR balance platform, complemented with Berg Balance Scale (BBS) test, visual gait analysis and leg strength measurements. Significant (p _ 0.05) differences between the groups were found for medio-lateral sway while standing on foam, as well as for isometric leg-extension, body mass index (BMI) and body mass, fast-speed gait and for the four last items of the BBS test.
Inadvertent falls to the ground or the floor during standing, rising or walking pose considerable risks to the elderly because of the considerable probability of bone fractures and other traumas. It is therefore of interest to screen people which might have an elevated risk of falling in order to be able to provide preventive measures, such as balance, agility and muscle strength training, or making the living environment safer.
Balance platforms present convenient tools for investigating balance, and there are a few studies which have shown that force platform measurements provide data that can predict to some degree whether a person belongs to the high risk group of fallers or not. An interesting finding emerging from these studies is that the medio-lateral sways during narrow stance seem to be a significant correlate with the fall risk.
An exception is the study which found that the risk for falls indoor was correlated with the size of the anterior-posterior sways; one may note that in that study they apparently did not standardize the foot position during quiet standing. A study of Parkinson (PD) patients again found large M/L sways to be a significant distinguishing marker between PD (associated with impaired balance) and healthy participants. Sideways falls also increase the risks of hip fractures compared to falls in other directions. Increasing response and reaction times with age have also been implied as fall risk factors.
Other potential factors are sensory ataxia, muscle weakness, syncope, vestibular and cognitive losses. It is therefore of interest to combine balance measurements with other types of measurements, such as force measurements, in order to get a fuller understanding of the factors contributing to raised fall risk. It is important not only to be able to assess the fall risks, but also to understand the reasons for increased fall risk in order to be able to plan and implement preventive measures.
The following video that shows senior residents exercising at a new extra care facility in Dudley built by Midland Heart and you can also download the Midland Heart Case Study pdf.
Active Ageing video UK