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Volunteers needed for falls prevention study


Zoe Satherley
27 May 2009
Southern Cross University researchers are calling for volunteer participants in a study on neuro-muscular factors relating to the control of balance in older adults.

The study will look at the factors that may relate to the incidence of falling in older people and interventions that might help reduce the risk of falls.

Falling is one of the most serious and costly accidents that affects older people, said Mr Thomas Yung-Sheng Chen, one of the researchers from the School of Health and Human Sciences undertaking the study. Together with other researchers, Mr Zac Crowley, Associate Professor Shi Zhou, and Professor Colleen Cartwright, the research team hopes to contribute to a better understanding of how to stay healthy and independent at older ages.

“Many people who are aged over 65 may have difficulty controlling their balance and therefore be at a greater risk of injuries sustained by falling,” Mr Chen said.

“Statistically, one in three community-dwelling older adults experience at least one fall each year and more than 30 percent of them require medical treatment after they suffer fall injuries. One reason for this is the deterioration in neuro-muscular function in older people.

“Older people may feel it is hard to negotiate a step or to deal with an accident when it happens unexpectedly. These problems may relate to them having weaker legs or some other difficulty in controlling their movement.

“However, we hypothesize that these negative impacts might be improved by decent exercise programs. Based on some successful examples in Australia and overseas, we will trial introducing Tai Chi exercise to help older people improve their balance.

“The research team will also develop and evaluate other exercise interventions for improving balance in older people.”

The researchers are looking for 50 male and female volunteers from the Northern Rivers area who are aged 65-80 and currently healthy with normal weight to participate in their study.

You are welcome to contact them for more information. Email Mr Thomas Yung-Sheng Chen on [email protected] or telephone 6620 3759.

Photo: Researcher Thomas Yung-Sheng Chen undertakes a fitness study with volunteer Kathleen Swattery, of Goonellabah.