Exercise to prevent falls in older adults: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis
Sherrington C, Michaleff ZA, Fairhall N, Paul SS, Tiedemann A, Whitney J, Cumming RG, Herbert RD, Close JC, Lord SR
Br J Sports Med. 2016 Oct 4. pii: bjsports-2016-096547. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096547
Previous meta-analyses have found that exercise prevents falls in older people. This study aimed to test whether this effect is still present when new trials are added, and it explores whether characteristics of the trial design, sample or intervention are associated with greater fall prevention effects.
Update of a systematic review with random effects meta-analysis and meta-regression.
Cochrane Library, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, PEDro and SafetyLit were searched from January 2010 to January 2016.
STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA:
We included randomised controlled trials that compared fall rates in older people randomised to receive exercise as a single intervention with fall rates in those randomised to a control group.
99 comparisons from 88 trials with 19 478 participants were available for meta-analysis. Overall, exercise reduced the rate of falls in community-dwelling older people by 21% (pooled rate ratio 0.79, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.85, p<0.001, I2 47%, 69 comparisons) with greater effects seen from exercise programmes that challenged balance and involved more than 3 hours/week of exercise. These variables explained 76% of the between-trial heterogeneity and in combination led to a 39% reduction in falls (incident rate ratio 0.61, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.72, p<0.001). Exercise also had a fall prevention effect in community-dwelling people with Parkinson’s disease (pooled rate ratio 0.47, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.73, p=0.001, I2 65%, 6 comparisons) or cognitive impairment (pooled rate ratio 0.55, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.83, p=0.004, I2 21%, 3 comparisons). There was no evidence of a fall prevention effect of exercise in residential care settings or among stroke survivors or people recently discharged from hospital.
Exercise as a single intervention can prevent falls in community-dwelling older people. Exercise programmes that challenge balance and are of a higher dose have larger effects. The impact of exercise as a single intervention in clinical groups and aged care facility residents requires further investigation, but promising results are evident for people with Parkinson’s disease and cognitive impairment.
Addition of a non-immersive virtual reality component to treadmill training to reduce fall risk in older adults (V-TIME): a randomised controlled trial
Mirelman A, Rochester L, Maidan I, Del Din S, Alcock L, Nieuwhof F, Rikkert MO, Bloem BR, Pelosin E, Avanzino L, Abbruzzese G, Dockx K, Bekkers E, Giladi N, Nieuwboer A, Hausdorff JM
Lancet. 2016 Sep 17;388(10050):1170-82
Age-associated motor and cognitive deficits increase the risk of falls, a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Because of the significant ramifications of falls, many interventions have been proposed, but few have aimed to prevent falls via an integrated approach targeting both motor and cognitive function. We aimed to test the hypothesis that an intervention combining treadmill training with non-immersive virtual reality (VR) to target both cognitive aspects of safe ambulation and mobility would lead to fewer falls than would treadmill training alone.
We carried out this randomised controlled trial at five clinical centres across five countries (Belgium, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK). Adults aged 60-90 years with a high risk of falls based on a history of two or more falls in the 6 months before the study and with varied motor and cognitive deficits were randomly assigned by use of computer-based allocation to receive 6 weeks of either treadmill training plus VR or treadmill training alone. Randomisation was stratified by subgroups of patients (those with a history of idiopathic falls, those with mild cognitive impairment, and those with Parkinson’s disease) and sex, with stratification per clinical site. Group allocation was done by a third party not involved in onsite study procedures. Both groups aimed to train three times per week for 6 weeks, with each session lasting about 45 min and structured training progression individualised to the participant’s level of performance. The VR system consisted of a motion-capture camera and a computer-generated simulation projected on to a large screen, which was specifically designed to reduce fall risk in older adults by including real-life challenges such as obstacles, multiple pathways, and distracters that required continual adjustment of steps. The primary outcome was the incident rate of falls during the 6 months after the end of training, which was assessed in a modified intention-to-treat population. Safety was assessed in all patients who were assigned a treatment. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01732653.
Between Jan 6, 2013, and April 3, 2015, 302 adults were randomly assigned to either the treadmill training plus VR group (n=154) or treadmill training alone group (n=148). Data from 282 (93%) participants were included in the prespecified, modified intention-to-treat analysis. Before training, the incident rate of falls was similar in both groups (10·7 [SD 35·6] falls per 6 months for treadmill training alone vs 11·9 [39·5] falls per 6 months for treadmill training plus VR). In the 6 months after training, the incident rate was significantly lower in the treadmill training plus VR group than it had been before training (6·00 [95% CI 4·36-8·25] falls per 6 months; p<0·0001 vs before training), whereas the incident rate did not decrease significantly in the treadmill training alone group (8·27 [5·55-12·31] falls per 6 months; p=0·49). 6 months after the end of training, the incident rate of falls was also significantly lower in the treadmill training plus VR group than in the treadmill training group (incident rate ratio 0·58, 95% CI 0·36-0·96; p=0·033). No serious training-related adverse events occurred.
In a diverse group of older adults at high risk for falls, treadmill training plus VR led to reduced fall rates compared with treadmill training alone.
Risk factors, incidence, consequences and prevention strategies for falls and fall-injury within older indigenous populations: a systematic review
Lukaszyk C, Harvey L, Sherrington C, Keay L, Tiedemann A, Coombes J, Clemson L, Ivers R
Aust N Z J Public Health. 2016 Oct 23
To examine the risk factors, incidence, consequences and existing prevention strategies for falls and fall-related injury in older indigenous people.
Relevant literature was identified through searching 14 electronic databases, a range of institutional websites, online search engines and government databases, using search terms pertaining to indigenous status, injury and ageing.
Thirteen studies from Australia, the United States, Central America and Canada were identified. Few studies reported on fall rates but two reported that around 30% of indigenous people aged 45 years and above experienced at least one fall during the past year. The most common hospitalised fall injuries among older indigenous people were hip fracture and head injury. Risk factors significantly associated with falls within indigenous populations included poor mobility, a history of stroke, epilepsy, head injury, poor hearing and urinary incontinence. No formally evaluated, indigenous-specific fall prevention interventions were identified.
Falls are a significant and growing health issue for older indigenous people worldwide that can lead to severe health consequences and even death. No fully-evaluated, indigenous-specific fall prevention programs were identified. Implications for Public Health: Research into fall patterns and fall-related injury among indigenous people is necessary for the development of appropriate fall prevention interventions.
Effects of Tai Chi on Cognition and Fall Risk in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Sungkarat S, Boripuntakul S, Chattipakorn N, Watcharasaksilp K, Lord SR
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Nov 22
To examine whether combined center- and home-based Tai Chi training can improve cognitive ability and reduce physiological fall risk in older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI).
Randomized controlled trial.
Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Adults aged 60 and older who met Petersen’s criteria for multiple-domain a-MCI (N = 66).
Three weeks center-based and 12 weeks home-based Tai Chi (50 minutes per session, 3 times per week).
Cognitive tests, including Logical Memory (LM) delayed recall, Block Design, Digit Span forward and backward, and Trail-Making Test Part B-A (TMT B-A), and fall risk index using the Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA).
At the end of the trial, performance on LM, Block Design, and TMT B-A were significantly better for the Tai Chi group than the control group after adjusting for baseline test performance. The Tai Chi group also had significantly better composite PPA score and PPA parameter scores: knee extension strength, reaction time, postural sway, and lower limb proprioception.
Combined center- and home-based Tai Chi training three times per week for 15 weeks significantly improved cognitive function and moderately reduced physiological fall risk in older adults with multiple-domain a-MCI. Tai Chi may be particularly beneficial to older adults with this condition.
Social Dancing and Incidence of Falls in Older Adults: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial
Merom D, Mathieu E, Cerin E, Morton RL, Simpson JM, Rissel C, Anstey KJ, Sherrington C, Lord SR, Cumming RG
PLoS Med. 2016 Aug 30;13(8)
The prevention of falls among older people is a major public health challenge. Exercises that challenge balance are recognized as an efficacious fall prevention strategy. Given that small-scale trials have indicated that diverse dance styles can improve balance and gait of older adults, two of the strongest risk factors for falls in older people, this study aimed to determine whether social dance is effective in i) reducing the number of falls and ii) improving physical and cognitive fall-related risk factors.
METHODS AND FINDINGS:
A parallel two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial was undertaken in 23 self-care retirement villages (clusters) around Sydney, Australia. Eligible villages had to have an appropriate hall for dancing, house at least 60 residents, and not be currently offering dance as a village activity. Retirement villages were randomised using a computer generated randomisation method, constrained using minimisation. Eligible participants had to be a resident of the village, be able to walk at least 50 m, and agree to undergo physical and cognitive testing without cognitive impairment. Residents of intervention villages (12 clusters) were offered twice weekly one-hour social dancing classes (folk or ballroom dancing) over 12 mo (80 h in total). Programs were standardized across villages and were delivered by eight dance teachers. Participants in the control villages (11 clusters) were advised to continue with their regular activities.
falls during the 12 mo trial and Trail Making Tests.
The Physiological Performance Assessment (i.e., postural sway, proprioception, reaction time, leg strength) and the Short Physical Performance Battery; health-related physical and mental quality of life from the Short-Form 12 (SF-12) Survey. Data on falls were obtained from 522 of 530 (98%) randomised participants (mean age 78 y, 85% women) and 424 (80%) attended the 12-mo reassessment, which was lower among folk dance participants (71%) than ballroom dancing (82%) or control participants (82%, p = 0.04). Mean attendance at dance classes was 51%. During the period, 444 falls were recorded; there was no significant difference in fall rates between the control group (0.80 per person-year) and the dance group (1.03 per person-year). Using negative binomial regression with robust standard errors the adjusted Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) was 1.19 (95% CI: 95% CI = 0.83, 1.71). In exploratory post hoc subgroup analysis, the rate of falls was higher among dance participants with a history of multiple falls (IRR = 2.02, 95% CI: 1.15, 3.54, p = 0.23 for interaction) and with the folk dance intervention (IRR = 1.68, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.73). There were no significant between-group differences in executive function test (TMT-B = 2.8 s, 95% CI: -6.2, 11.8). Intention to treat (ITT) analysis revealed no between-group differences at 12-mo follow-up in the secondary outcome measures, with the exception of postural sway, favouring the control group. Exploratory post hoc analysis by study completers and style indicated that ballroom dancing participants apparently improved their gait speed by 0.07 m/s relative to control participants (95% CI: 0.00, 0.14, p = 0.05). Study limitations included allocation to style based on logistical considerations rather than at random; insufficient power to detect differential impacts of different dance styles and smaller overall effects; variation of measurement conditions across villages; and no assessment of more complex balance tasks, which may be more sensitive to changes brought about by dancing.
Social dancing did not prevent falls or their associated risk factors among these retirement villages’ residents. Modified dance programmes that contain “training elements” to better approximate structured exercise programs, targeted at low and high-risk participants, warrant investigation.
The impact of geographical location on trends in hospitalisation rates and outcomes for fall-related injuries in older people
Sukumar DW, Harvey LA, Mitchell RJ, Close JC
Aust N Z J Public Health. 2016 Aug;40(4):342-8
This population-based study investigates the influence of geographical location on hospital admissions, utilisation and outcomes for fall-related injury in older adults, adjusting for age, sex and comorbidities.
A linked dataset of all admissions of NSW residents aged 65 and older, hospitalised at least once for a fall-related injury between 2003 and 2012, was used to estimate rates of hospitalisations, total lengths-of-stay, 28-day readmissions, and 30-day mortalities. These were standardised for age, sex, comorbidity, and remoteness.
Compared to urban residents, rural residents were hospitalised less (p<0.0001) and hospitalisation rates increased at a lower rate (0.8% vs 2.6% per year) from 2003 to 2012. Rural residents had a shorter median total length of stay (5 vs 7 days, p<0.0001), a higher 28-day readmission rate (18.9% vs 17.0%, p<0.0001) and higher 30-day mortality (5.0% vs 4.9%, p=0.0046).
Over the study period, rural residents of NSW had lower rates of fall-related injury hospitalisation and a lower annual increase in hospitalisation rates compared to urban residents. When hospitalised, rural residents had a shorter length-of-stay, but higher rates of readmission and mortality. These differences existed following standardisation.
This study highlights the need for further research to characterise and explain this variability.
The FARSEEING real-world fall repository: a large-scale collaborative database to collect and share sensor signals from real-world falls
Klenk J, Schwickert L, Palmerini L, Mellone S, Bourke A, Ihlen EA, Kerse N, Hauer K, Pijnappels M, Synofzik M, Srulijes K, Maetzler W, Helbostad JL, Zijlstra W, Aminian K, Todd C, Chiari L, Becker C; FARSEEING Consortium
Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2016 Oct 30;13:8
Real-world fall events objectively measured by body-worn sensors can improve the understanding of fall events in older people. However, these events are rare and hence challenging to capture. Therefore, the FARSEEING (FAll Repository for the design of Smart and sElf-adaptive Environments prolonging Independent livinG) consortium and associated partners started to build up a meta-database of real-world falls.
Between January 2012 and December 2015 more than 300 real-world fall events have been recorded. This is currently the largest collection of real-world fall data recorded with inertial sensors. A signal processing and fall verification procedure has been developed and applied to the data. Since the end of 2015, 208 verified real-world fall events are available for analyses. The fall events have been recorded within several studies, with different methods, and in different populations. All sensor signals include at least accelerometer measurements and 58 % additionally include gyroscope and magnetometer measurements. The collection of data is ongoing and open to further partners contributing with fall signals. The FARSEEING consortium also aims to share the collected real-world falls data with other researchers on request.
The FARSEEING meta-database will help to improve the understanding of falls and enable new approaches in fall risk assessment, fall prevention, and fall detection in both aging and disease.
Daily-Life Gait Quality as Predictor of Falls in Older People: A 1-Year Prospective Cohort Study
van Schooten KS, Pijnappels M, Rispens SM, Elders PJ, Lips P, Daffertshofer A, Beek PJ, van Dieën JH
PLoS One. 2016 Jul 7;11(7)
Falls can have devastating consequences for older people. We determined the relationship between the likelihood of fall incidents and daily-life behavior. We used wearable sensors to assess habitual physical activity and daily-life gait quality (in terms of e.g. stability, variability, smoothness and symmetry), and determined their predictive ability for time-to-first-and-second-falls. 319 older people wore a trunk accelerometer (Dynaport MoveMonitor, McRoberts) during one week. Participants further completed questionnaires and performed grip strength and trail making tests to identify risk factors for falls. Their prospective fall incidence was followed up for six to twelve months. We determined interrelations between commonly used gait characteristics to gain insight in their interpretation and determined their association with time-to-falls. For all data -including questionnaires and tests- we determined the corresponding principal components and studied their predictive ability for falls. We showed that gait characteristics of walking speed, stride length, stride frequency, intensity, variability, smoothness, symmetry and complexity were often moderately to highly correlated (r > 0.4). We further showed that these characteristics were predictive of falls. Principal components dominated by history of falls, alcohol consumption, gait quality and muscle strength proved predictive for time-to-fall. The cross-validated prediction models had adequate to high accuracy (time dependent AUC of 0.66-0.72 for time-to-first-fall and 0.69-0.76 for -second-fall). Daily-life gait quality obtained from a single accelerometer on the trunk is predictive for falls. These findings confirm that ambulant measurements of daily behavior contribute substantially to the identification of elderly at (high) risk of falling.