HOME-BASED EXERCISE REDUCES FALLS

Falls become more common as we age. The CDC reports that deaths due to falls have been increasing in the USA. In fact, the CDC reports that falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in Americans age 65 and older. About 27,000 seniors die annually due to falls.

 The study reported here asks the question of whether an exercise program can reduce risk for falls. Two groups of 172 persons aged 70 or over who had fallen once and referred to a falls clinic in Canada were studied in a randomized clinical trial.  Almost 2/3rds (67%) were women. One group received a home-based exercise program delivered by a physical therapist (strength and balance training) while the other received only fall prevention care by a geriatrician.

Over a 12-month period a total of 236 self-reported falls occurred in the home-based exercise group while 366 falls occurred in the other comparison group.  This difference was statistically significant. The home exercise may have been more effective in those who had a history of frequent falls.

It is encouraging that an at-risk for falls group can achieve a decrease in falls with a modest exercise program implemented at home. This result should be relevant for older adults with HIV. Implementing the home exercise programs seems warranted for older adults with HIV given how many of them are frail. Frailty is associated with increased falls and subsequent hospitalizations and deaths.

Liu-Ambrose, T. et al., (2019) Effect of a Home-Based Exercise Program on Subsequent Falls Among Community-Dwelling High Risk Older Adults After a Fall-A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA; 321(21): 2092-2100.