“It is amazing the amount of evidence that we now have regarding exercise and the many benefits it provides people of all ages” said Chiara Naseri as she discussed the essential components of effective exercise for falls prevention at the Build Your Balance Forum in October. A captive audience of health professionals gathered at the Boulevard Centre and regionally via webinar, to share their knowledge, skills and experiences in tackling balance-related falls risk factors and potential strategies to reduce them.
PRESCRIBING SAFE AND EFFECTIVE BALANCE EXERCISES
“By optimising function, balance confidence and supporting sustainable lifestyle changes, we (health professionals) can prevent falls and maximise the independence of older adults living in the community.” Chiara provided in-depth explanations on how to prescribe exercises that can safely and effectively challenge balance to prevent slips, trips and falls.
Chiara’s presentation drew on her extensive experience as a physiotherapist at the Osborne Park Hospital Falls Specialist Program and the vast evidence base that supports the effectiveness of challenging balance exercises to maintain and improve balance to prevent falls.
She encouraged all Health Professionals, particularly Physiotherapists, to act as enablers and use their professional knowledge to guide older adults to manage their falls risk factors independently.
FALLS RISK AND BALANCE EXERCISES AMONGST PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA
Professor Keith Hill, Head of the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science at Curtin University, presented the latest research findings in the effectiveness of balance exercises for falls prevention in people with dementia.
Keith revealed that people with dementia fall at a disproportionately higher rate than people without dementia. This is thought to result from the individual’s impaired neurological function that exacerbates other falls risk factors, such as poor balance.
Keith’s presentation focused on the current evidence supporting the modification of balance exercise programs for healthy older adults as a falls prevention strategy for people with dementia.
The prescription of challenging and effective balance exercises is guided by the individual’s level of cognitive and physical ability, and similar to people without dementia, safety is of paramount importance when performing the exercises.
BALANCE AND THE INNER EAR
The audience then observed Lisa Cockman, an Audiologist from the Balance Centre at the Ear Science Institute of Australia, who demonstrated simple and effective manoeuvres to assess an older adult’s vestibular function.
She encouraged the audience to learn and perform these assessments in their practice with older adults, explaining they can identify a fairly common and treatable condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).
Whilst this particular condition is not serious it can have substantial impact on an individual’s functioning and increase their risk of falls, resulting in injury. Lisa highlighted the importance of all physiotherapists in particular being able to identify and treat BPPV as it will reduce patient’s falls risk, improve their quality of life and save them a costly visit to an Audiologist!
The evening closed with an interactive case study allowing attendees to put their newfound knowledge into practice.
The Stay On Your Feet® team would like to thank the fantastic guest speakers for their informative and insightful presentations. The audience left with increased awareness of the role of balance in preventing falls and strategies to build the balance of older adults.
Feedback received via a short questionnaire indicates attendees were highly satisfied with event and found it to be a valuable and engaging learning experience.
The next Stay On Your Feet® campaign, Make Your Home Safer, is launching in February 2016 and there will be a Make Your Home Safer forum held. More information about this fantastic learning and networking opportunity will be available in the coming months.