Randomized controlled trial of exercise intervention for the prevention of falls in community-dwelling elderly Japanese women
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Falls are common in elderly people. Possible consequences include serious injuries and the post-fall syndrome, with functional decline and limitation of physical activity. The present randomized controlled study sought to clarify the benefits of a combined long-term and home-based fall prevention program for elderly Japanese women. The subjects were individuals aged over 73 years, living at home in a western suburb of Tokyo, who had attended a comprehensive geriatric health check. Persons with a marked decline in the basic activities of daily living (ADL), hemiplegia, or those missing baseline data were excluded. Fifty-two subjects who expressed a wish to participate in the trial were randomized, 28 to an exercise-intervention group and 24 to a control group. Baseline data for age, handgrip force, walking speed, total serum cholesterol, serum albumin, basic ADL, visual and auditory impairments, self-rated health, and experience of falls did not differ significantly between the two groups. Beginning from June 2000, the intervention group attended a 6-month program of fall-prevention exercise classes aimed at improving leg strength, balance, and walking ability; this was supplemented by a home-based exercise program that focused on leg strength. The control group received only a pamphlet and advice on fall prevention.
The average rate of attendance at exercise class was 75.3% (range, 64% to 86%). Participants showed significant improvements in tandem walk and functional reach after the intervention program, with enhanced self confidence. At the 8-month follow-up, the proportion of women with falls was 13.6% (3/22) in the intervention group and 40.9% (9/22) in the control group. At 20 months, the proportion remained unchanged, at 13.6% in the intervention group, but had increased to 54.5% (12/22) in the control group, which showed a statistically significant difference between the two groups (Fisher’s exact test; P = 0.0097). The total number of falls during the 20-month follow-up period was 6 in the intervention group and 17 in the control group. We conclude that a moderate exercise intervention program plus a home-based program significantly decreases the incidence of falls in both the short and the long term, contributing to improved health and quality of life in the elderly.
Key wordsexercise intervention geriatric exercise home-based exercise fractures
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