Fall risk prevention in older adults is on the rise and requires a multidisciplinary approach to mitigate the physical, emotional and financial impact on our communities.
Schwenk et al. published a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
This study looked specifically at the impact of foot and ankle (FA) exercises and their effectiveness on reducing fall risk in older adults.
Schwenk et al. state that 30% of people over 65 years of age and 40% over 75 years report falls.
The resultant complications vary from minor to critical with long lasting disability or functional impairment possible.
Prior research has documented fall causes such as environmental hazards, vision problems, reaction time, etc.
However, this study reports that “foot pain, reduced range of motion, toe weakness, and toe deformity have each been shown to be independent risk factors for falling”.
With 30% of older adults reporting foot problems, this is significant.
FA exercise programs were shown by this study review to “significantly reduce the risk of falling”.
The most successful programs included toe grasping exercises and ankle range of motion exercises for improved balance and ankle flexibility.
This review is well worth reading and incorporating into daily treatment programs for both rehabilitative and preventative measures.
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