Falls Prevention

Effect of Falls

Falls and fall related injuries have a significant impact on the health, confidence and independence of elderly individuals in our community. One in three people aged over 65 years fall at least once each year with this risk increasing to 50%in those aged over 80 years and over.

The prevalence of falls will continue to increase as the proportion of the population aged over 65 years continues to grow, placing an increasing cost and demand on the health system.

Factors that increase the risk of Falls

A history of falls, balance and mobility problems, multifocal eyewear, inappropriate footwear and the use of sleeping tablets have all been associated with an increased risk of falls.

Numerous studies have shown that falls can be prevented in the community by strategies that include a combination of exercise, medication review, musculoskeletal therapy, rehabilitation, and environmental modification.

Falls prevention strategies investigated by the Cochrane review concluded that exercise programmes that target 2 or more components of flexibility, endurance, strength and balance significantly decrease the rate and number of falls by up to 40%.

How does Physiotherapy help?

Recent research has shown that programmes with the biggest effect on decreasing falls rates included physiotherapy exercises that challenge balance and use a higher dose of exercise. An increased effect was also noted when the exercise was performed more frequently (3 or more times per week).

Falls prevention exercise programmes have been shown to be effective in studies both when delivered by a physiotherapist in a group setting, or as an individual home rehabilitation programme.

Castle Hill Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre are able to prescribe a home exercise programme of balance and lower limb strengthening exercises based on the Otago Falls prevention programme for patients. They can also provide advice to patients on reducing known risk factors such as inappropriate footwear and environmental considerations. This physiotherapy treatment programme can be regularly monitored and progressed to encourage ongoing compliance.

Thomas, S., Mackintosh, S., Halbert, J., (2010) Does the “Otago exercise programme” reduce mortality and falls in older
adults?: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Age and Ageing. 39: 681-687.