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Researchers Say Short-Term Exercise Programs Can Prevent Falls by Seniors

Falling is bad news for seniors-oftentimes resulting in life-changing injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and an increased risk of early death. New research findings at University of the Sciences (USciences) into how and why seniors fall may provide healthcare providers with insight on improved balance and strength-training strategies to reduce fall risk in the elderly population.

“One in three individuals over the age of 65 experience a fall,” said Carol A. Maritz, PT, EdD, a board-certified geriatric clinical specialist and physical therapy professor at USciences. “However, aside from our findings, current overall research lacks evidence regarding the impact of a short-term balance-based exercise regimen on community-dwelling older adults.”

Students and faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy at USciences recently completed a study that explored the effectiveness of a five-week balance-training exercise program designed to focus on lower-limb strength, balance, and fear of falling in seniors over the age of 60. Researchers worked closely with more than a dozen men and women at a senior center in northeast Philadelphia and tailored the exercise program to each participant’s needs.

The study results showed that a short-term balance program can improve lower-limb strength, balance confidence, and functional mobility in the older population, thereby, reducing their risk of falling. Even though there were no significant changes in dynamic balance, there was a positive trend suggesting the benefit of a short-term training program.

This article was adapted from information provided by USciences.