Implementing an Evidence-Based Exercise Program To Reduce Falls In Seniors


Vancouver, BC – Each year, 30 percent of seniors have at least one fall — half of whom fall more than once. In fact, nine out of 10 hip fractures result from falls. These falls can have dire consequences, 20% lead to death and a further 20% are admitted to care homes for the balance of their life.

Fortunately, falls are preventable. There is strong evidence that the Otago Exercise Program, which consists of strength and balance training delivered by a physiotherapist, can reduce falls in this population. Seniors who are at risk of a fall are the prime population to benefit from the Otago program, but as little as 25 percent of people who start the program continue with it over time.

Arthritis Research Canada’s Senior Research Scientist Dr. Linda Li is co-leading a team of fellow scientists, arthritis research trainees, and patient experts in a three year study and randomized trial utilizing the traditional Otago program or an enhanced version that includes an exercise coach.

The research team recently demonstrated that exercise coaching with the use of a consumer wearable, such as a Fitbit, was feasible and could help older adults with chronic disease to stay active. A key element was to empower the person to develop realistic exercise goals.

In this project, the team will test two methods of delivering the Otago program, which includes a new coaching approach by a physiotherapist and the use of a Fitbit to provide feedback (versus the traditional delivery, which is the current standard).

The team will measure success by the degree to which the program is delivered as intended, and the degree to which it is followed by seniors at 12, 18 and 24 months. The number of falls, risk of falling, and participation in walking activities between the two groups will also be assessed over time. In addition, the team will assess whether the coaching approach is a cost-effective option for delivering the Otago program.

Given the serious consequences, fall prevention is a high priority. To this end, the team has brought together a team of national leaders in fall prevention and implementation science, as well as health system partners and a prominent national patient group to address this important issue.

To read more about Dr. Li, click here: https://www.arthritisresearch.ca/linda-li/.

ABOUT ARTHRITIS RESEARCH CANADA: Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Led by world-renowned rheumatologist, Dr. John Esdaile, Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific team of over 100 are creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Within British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:  

Marketing & Communications
Arthritis Research Canada
604-207-4002 or mc@arthritisresearch.ca

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