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Falls risk in relation to activity exposure in high-risk older adults

Magaziner, J., Rochester, L., Hausdorff, J.M., Mirelman, A., Della Croce, U., Cereatti, A., Nieuwhof, F., Olde Rikkert, M.G.M., Bloem, B.R., Avanzino, L., Pelosin, E., Bekkers, E.M.J., Nieuwboer, A., Lord, S., Galna, B.ORCID: 0000-0002-5890-1894 and Del Din, S. (2020) Falls risk in relation to activity exposure in high-risk older adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 75 (6). pp. 1198-1205.

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Physical activity is linked to many positive health outcomes, stimulating the development of exercise programs. However, many falls occur while walking and so promoting activity might paradoxically increase fall rates, causing injuries, and worse quality of life. The relationship between activity exposure and fall rates remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between walking activity (exposure to risk) and fall rates before and after an exercise program (V-TIME).

One hundred and nine older fallers, 38 fallers with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 128 fallers with Parkinson’s disease (PD) were randomly assigned to one of two active interventions: treadmill training only or treadmill training combined with a virtual reality component. Participants were tested before and after the interventions. Free-living walking activity was characterized by volume, pattern, and variability of ambulatory bouts using an accelerometer positioned on the lower back for 1 week. To evaluate that relationship between fall risk and activity, a normalized index was determined expressing fall rates relative to activity exposure (FRA index), with higher scores indicating a higher risk of falls per steps taken.

At baseline, the FRA index was higher for fallers with PD compared to those with MCI and older fallers. Walking activity did not change after the intervention for the groups but the FRA index decreased significantly for all groups (p ≤ .035).

This work showed that V-TIME interventions reduced falls risk without concurrent change in walking activity. We recommend using the FRA index in future fall prevention studies to better understand the nature of intervention programs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America
Copyright: © The Author(s) 2020
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