Balance Training Has Benefit Even If a Senior Falls

Falls are a serious problem for older adults. Seniors injured in a fall may sustain sprains, broken bones, even brain damage, all of which can lead to a dramatic decline in mobility, health and independence. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year, over 20,000 seniors die from fall-related injuries.

Senior safety experts tell us that physical activity is an important component of fall prevention. A good exercise program for seniors focuses on aerobic, weight training and flexibility exercises—and also, balance training exercises, such as tai chi or gait training, to improve our ability to sense where we are in space and make automatic corrections to keep us stable.

Now, a new study demonstrates an added benefit of balance training. Researchers from Hôpital Paul-Brousse in France examined data from a variety of sources to see if fall prevention exercises had truly proven to be protective in a large group of seniors. The researchers announced that seniors who took part in these programs indeed had a lower rate of falls—and in addition, if they did fall, they were less likely to sustain an injury.

The researchers, led by Fabienne El Khoury, found that fall-prevention exercises lowered the risk of every type of fall-related injuries—especially serious injuries. In other words, you would be less likely to receive a bad bruise in the event of a fall—and even less likely to be hospitalized with a serious fracture! Reporting in the international medical journal BMJ, the researchers said, “Reducing the risk of falling and improving protective responses during a fall may be an important and feasible means of preventing fractures and other serious injuries in the elderly.” They added, “The results provide useful additional evidence for health care providers to encourage patients to take part in exercise fall-prevention programs.”

Source: AgeWise reporting on study appearing in BMJ