There is a need for falls prevention programs for older people who have either had a recent fall or are at high risk of falling. Most existing community-based, falls prevention programs that focus on physical activity do not specifically target people who are identified as being at high risk.
The Otago program, developed in New Zealand, is a home-based exercise program that has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk of falling among this group.
In the pilot we are modifying the Otago program to include group exercise sessions.
What we are doing Adults 75 years and older are screened by their general practitioner for falls risk and then referred to a exercise physiologist who prescribes a home exercise program. In addition, participants attend 3 group exercise classes. Both the home program and group sessions are based on the exercises used in the Otago exercise program. After completing the 6-month program participants are encouraged to continue their home exercise program as well as attend a group exercise class.
The project runs for 1 year and will be completed by the end of 2010.
Evaluation Our evaluation will assess any changes in balance, muscle strength and risk of falling risk, as well as the participants’ adherence to the program. We’ll also assess changes to general health, physical activity levels, participants’ confidence in avoiding a fall and their ability to perform daily activities.