The surprisingly simple tool being used for falls prevention

Nov 28, 2022
Researcher's say pedometers can be used for falls prevention. Source: Getty

Falling over is never something we want to experience, and as we age, preventing and minimizing your fall risk becomes such an important aspect when it comes to looking after your health.

Falls are the dominant cause of hospitalisations amongst senior Australians, with 30 per cent of the older population falling once each year.

Such incidents can have detrimental results on both physical and mental health, resulting in 71 per cent of deaths for this cohort and often leaving people with confidence issues which in turn, results in higher fall risk.

However, researchers from the National Centre for Healthy Ageing and Monash University have uncovered a way to aid in the prevention of falls, discovering the use of a pedometer as a predictor for monitoring who is likely to have a high fall risk.

According to Monash University, the use of the daily step counter acted as an indicator by measuring whether a person took above or below 5000 steps each day.

“The study also looked at the way cognitive, medical, and other factors such as poor muscle strength were associated with falls in those with higher versus lower levels of daily step count,” the report stated.

“Among people with [less than] 5, 575 steps per day, an increased risk of falls occurred in those with poorer executive cognitive function (the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, juggle multiple tasks, and judge risks), slower gait speed, and lower step count.

“In those with [over] 5, 575 steps per day, only low mood was associated with increased fall risk.”

Associate Professor Michele Callisaya said helping prevent those with high fall risks is a crucial element of healthcare, saying “such people would benefit from consideration of additional risk factors such as altered cognitive function in devising strategies for prevention”.

“We also found that in those who are active and taking a higher number of daily steps, the presence of a low mood increased the risk of falling. Although the reason for this is not entirely clear, in active people who fall, it may be important to assess their mood and help them manage their psychological state as best as possible,” she said.

Fellow researcher Professor Velandai Srikanth said pedometers are an easy and accessible tool that should be used in fall prevention.

“Assessing daily step count is becoming increasingly feasible via eHealth (e.g., small wearable sensors) and smart watches and phone apps,” Srikanth said

“Daily step count is a low-cost and low-tech measure that can be used to flag people who may require falls-risk assessment and interventions.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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