Manasi Saraf Joshi
Pune, 29th September 2021: A cursory look around will give us the statistics of the number of older persons falling and injuring them. What we do not know is how we can prevent these injuries by simply adopting these measures that not only reduce the falling but will also ensure a healthy life for them.
Among the very basic techniques is a daily exercise that reduces the percentage of falling. As exercise not only help them to maintain their physique but also improves their balance. And this is not a general statement. The first of its kind of study has taken place in India. The research “Basic gait pattern and impact of fall risk factors on gait among older adults in India”, done by a group of researchers from Savitribai Phule Pune University’s School of Health Sciences has proved this. They had received funds from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for doing this research.
Lead researcher Aarti Nagarkar said, “it has been observed that there are posture and balance issues among the elderly. We have been researching various issues faced by elderly from last few years and observed that among many other, falling has been a serious issue which not only affects them but the entire family.”
“But a small amount of exercise daily, a few simple modifications in the house would lead the reduction of falling by a minimum of 30% to a maximum of 70%”, she stated.
The study took place in the year 2020 in Pune. The sample selected were from various parts of the city and of various economic strata. Along with Nagarkar, her doctoral students Amruta Kulkarni and Snehal Kulkarni carried out the study.
Background for the study
“An unstable gait pattern is an indicator of an increased risk of falls among older adults. Data on basic gait parameters is useful in the early identification of gait impairment. However, reference gait measurements are not available in low- and middle-income countries”, she said.
Then the question arises What are the normative reference values of gait parameters and do fall risk factors such as impaired balance, functional difficulty, and multimorbidity affect the gait patterns of older adults in India?
Thus, a study was conducted among 800 elders by giving them an intensive course of 16 weeks. However, the course was given to those who were from high fall risk. The course contained various exercises along with counselling”, she informed adding that after 12 weeks the results were started showing. The falling percentage fell upto 30% minimum while 70% maximum.
“It was also seen during the study that the women are more prone to falling as compared to men, but at the same time, the effect of exercise is same among both the genders”, she stated.
“This study provides a baseline or reference values of various gait parameters measured on a large sample of the population aged above 60 to 75. Assessment of gait patterns and associated risk factors in a clinical setup will help identify the older adults at risk of falls and reduce the enormous burden of fall injuries. Since gait parameters show a large variation across geographical regions, it is important to have region-specific reference values”.
Measures to reduce the falling
• Forty minutes of exercise atleast four to five days in a week
• Modifications like keeping the bathroom light on during night and if there is inadequate sunlight in the bathroom, then all day long
• Fixing a bar to hold in bathroom or in large open areas in the house.
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