Nurses should redouble their efforts to encourage older patients to undertake exercise programmes aimed at preventing falls, new research suggests.
This is because such programmes also seem to prevent injuries caused by falls, according to pioneering French research.
Fall-related injuries are not only very widespread among older people. They are also a leading cause of chronic pain and functional damage and raise the risk of discharge to a nursing home, which includes a big financial cost.
Well-devised exercise courses can stop falls in older adults living at home, but previously there had not been much evidence to support this claim.
Scientists investigated whether fall-prevention exercise programmes are linked to a substantially lower risk of fractures and other injuries because of falls.
The research’s primary goal was to review the existing evidence about the impact of exercise interventions on different outcomes of fall-based injuries.
Information was collated from the Cochrane Library, Pubmed, EMBASE and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHIL) throughout June.
The review comprised 17 trials involving 2,195 participants in the exercise group and 2,110 in the control groups.
The mean age was 76 years and over three-quarters (77%) were women.
Two of the trials employed Tai Chi.
The others consisted of walking, balance and functional training, exercise that involves training for activities performed in everyday life.
In addition, most trials included strength/resistance training exercises.
Exercise appeared to substantially lessen the level of falls resulting in medical care, serious injuries and fractures, the research found.
The study provides proof that fall prevention exercise programmes for older people not only shrink fall rates, but also prevent injuries resulting from falls in older community-dwelling adults.
All the exercises that proved successful in fall prevention focused upon balance training which the scientists claim is “ample evidence that this type of programme improves balance ability”.
Researchers also add that this could be due to “improving cognitive functioning”.
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