The second review, from the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group, looked at falls prevention interventions for people aged over 65 living in the community. This review is really important for all those working to prevent falls in this population, around 30% of whom will fall each year.Key message: group exercise classes and exercises at home are amongst a number of strategies found to help prevent falls in people aged over 65 living in the community.
The review has been updated with a substantial body of new evidence and now includes 159 randomised controlled trials, involving 79,193 people. There is plenty of good news, with evidence that a number of things work, including group exercise classes, exercises at home and Tai Chi. Tai Chi was less effective for those at high risk of falling, but for this group home safety measures were particularly helpful.
Overall the review provides good evidence of effectiveness, but the reviewers note that falling was not always defined in the same way, or at all, and that this can alter the significance of the results.
The review contains evidence on a number of other strategies, which you can read in the full review, in a Cochrane summary or in the Lifestyle Elf’s blog; see the links below. You can also listen to a podcast of the review.
Gillespie LD, Robertson MC, Gillespie WJ, Sherrington C, Gates S, Clemson LM, Lamb SE. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD007146. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007146.pub3 Cochrane summary and podcast http://www.cochrane.org/podcasts/issue-7-9-july-september-2012/interventions-preventing-falls-older-people-living-community
Research News: Exercises help prevent falls in older adults. BMJ 22 September 2012; 345:12.