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Fall risk and fitness among older adults enrolled in balance and strength training classes
  1. C Goss1,2,
  2. S Thoreson3,
  3. C Harrod1,2,
  4. L Clark4,
  5. C DiGuiseppi1,2
  1. 1Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA
  2. 2Colorado Injury Control Research Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  3. 3Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO, USA
  4. 4College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

    Abstract

    Background The fall risk profile of older adults who participate in community balance/strength classes for fall prevention is not well described.

    Aims/Objectives/Purpose We examined fall risk and fitness in older adults taking N'Balance™, an 8-week community-based balance/strength programme.

    Methods All 241 first-time participants aged 60+ in 34 consecutive N'Balance programmes held in the study community completed surveys, and staff-administered 30-second chair stand and 8-foot up-and-go tests, during the first and last class. 89% consented to release results to investigators. We calculated fall risk and fitness estimates with Wald 95% CIs. We analysed before-after changes using paired-t or Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

    Results/Outcomes Mean participant age was 75.7 years; 82.1% were female, 96.7% had secondary or higher education, and 26.1% (95% CI 20.5% to 32.7%) had BMI≥30. Half (48.1%; 41.3%, 54.9%) had fallen at least once in the past year. Overall, 79.9% (73.9%, 84.8%) had at least one important fall risk (age≥75, fairly-to-very concerned about falling, frequent ‘near falls’, or fall history). At post-test (83% response), frequency of ‘near’ falls decreased significantly (Z=−6.816, p<0.001); fear of falling (Short Fall Efficacy Scale-International) declined by 0.8 points (p<0.001), 30-second chair stand improved by 1.7 stands (p<0.001), and 8-foot up-and-go improved by 1.1 s (p<0.001).

    Significance/Contribution to the Field Most older adults in community balance/strength classes are at high risk of falls, indicating that such classes are successfully reaching those in need of fall prevention. The N'Balance programme decreased self-reported ‘near’ falls and fear of falling, and improved fitness; controlled evaluation of its effect on falls is needed.

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