Raising awareness among older people of strength and balance training to prevent falls.

Older adult carrying out strength and balance trainingStrength and balance training is the most effective way to prevent falls

Falls are recognised as a major threat to public health. Falls in adults aged 65+ account for over 50% of injury-related hospital admissions and 40% of all injury deaths, are costly for economies to treat, and often result in fear of falling among older people that stops them getting outdoors.

Strength and balance training (SBT) is the most effective way to prevent falls among community-dwelling older people. BU’s Dr Samuel Nyman has contributed to the research in this area focusing on the obstacles to increased uptake and adherence to SBT among older people.

Two reviews by Dr Nyman challenge the widely-reputed systematic reviews of falls prevention interventions held in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Dr Nyman’s research showed that on average, by 12 months, only a third of older people in institutional settings and half of those in the community are likely to be adhering to falls prevention interventions. For physical activity interventions such as SBT, rates of a quarter in institutions and 30-42% in the community are evidenced.

The research also relates to long lies, where a person falls and lies on the floor for an hour or more.  Using questionnaire data from over 3000 older people in England, Dr Nyman showed only 6% of their sample reported using personal call alarms to prevent long lies.

This research has been used to better equip health professionals in facilitating older people’s motivation to carry out SBT, and through the creation of a new website, has raised awareness of the importance of regularly carrying out SBT among older people locally in the Bournemouth area and across the UK.

Later Life training

Later Life Training Ltd provides exercise training for professionals working with older people around the UK such as physiotherapists, rehabilitation professionals, exercise specialists, and others who work in health and social care. It is a not-for-profit organisation and it currently offers six courses that are accredited and endorsed.

In 2012, the organisation updated their MotivateMe training course to include Dr Nyman’s research, emphasising the importance of increasing older people’s motivation to regularly carry out SBT.

Prevention of Falls Network Earth (PRoFaNE)

This is an online community to support falls prevention professionals worldwide. Dr Nyman’s work has contributed to this resource to better equip falls prevention practitioners in facilitating older people’s motivation to do SBT.

The resource entitled Ten Steps to a Successful Exercise Pathway within Falls Services applies Dr Nyman’s research. In particular the step Selling Your Exercise Service applied his work on issue of low uptake and adherence to falls prevention interventions even when practical barriers (such as time and place of the exercise session) have been removed.

Fresh Balance

Dr Nyman’s research as led to the development of a new website, providing older with SBT advice. The site – FreshBalance.org.uk is evidence-based and provides advice on the best forms of exercise to prevent falls, presenting it in the most appealing and motivating manner for older people.

The site has raised awareness of the importance of regularly carrying out SBT among older people locally in the Bournemouth area and across the UK.

Research references

  • Journal article: Nyman, S. R., & Victor, C. R. (2011). Older people’s recruitment, sustained participation, and adherence to falls prevention interventions in institutional settings: A supplement to the Cochrane systematic review. Age and Ageing, 40 (4), 430-436. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afr016.
  • Journal article: Nyman, S. R. & Victor, C. R. (2012). Older people’s participation in and engagement with falls prevention interventions in community settings: An augment to the Cochrane systematic review. Age and Ageing, 41 (1), 16-23. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afr103.
  • Journal article: Nyman, S. R., & Victor, C. R. (2012). Use of personal call alarms among community-dwelling older people. Ageing & Society, Published online: 15th August 2012. DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X12000803.
  • Journal article: Whitehead, S. H., Nyman, S. R., Broaders, F., Skelton, D. A., & Todd, C. J. (2012). The quality of English-language websites offering falls-prevention advice to older members of the public and their families. Health Informatics Journal, 18 (1), 50-65. DOI: 10.1177/1460458211432588.