New knees needed to help old knees get back on track

New knees needed to help old knees get back on track

19 Aug 2008

Statistics indicate one in three people aged over 65 will injure themselves in a fall and knee osteoarthritis, a condition that deforms the joint and weakens the muscle making the knee unstable, has been shown to pose an intrinsic risk factor in many of these occurrences.

La Trobe University's Musculoskeletal Research Centre in Bundoora, has recognised that further research is required for this serious health issue and is conducting a study to identify factors associated with the early detection of falls. It is hoped the results of this research will give clinicians and professionals an opportunity to implement an effective fall-prevention program.

The La Trobe research program is calling for volunteers with healthy knees to be assessed on a series of simple, non-invasive tests of balance, reaction times, vision and coordination. Measurements of volunteers feet and walking patterns will also be made, and the study will separately assess the walking patterns of older people with knee osteoarthritis (before and after knee replacement surgery).

Dr Pazit Levinger, a postdoctoral research fellow, who is conducting the study, says osteoarthritis is reaching ‘epidemic' levels nationally and worldwide.

"If we can identify a person at high-risk early, that information could prevent a serious fall," Dr Levinger says.

Fall related costs for older Australians reached nearly half a billion dollars of the country's health budget in 2001,and it is estimated that the financial burden of fall related injury will increase considerably as the ‘baby boomer' generation get older. Early detection can mean the difference of being able to live at home or being placed into institutionalised care.

The La Trobe study is looking for people with good knees, aged 45 years and over who have no history or clinical diagnosis of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or knee trauma or pain, and are able to walk with out use of a walking stick/frame. The research includes one time examination taking less than a hour at the University's Bundoora campus, followed by feedback and advice a week or so later.

If you are interested in participating, please contact:

Dr Pazit Levinger
Musculoskeletal Research Centre at the Faculty of Health Sciences
T: 9479 5250 or 0412 860 804
E: p.levinger@latrobe.edu.au

Media photo opportunity available: Call Mikhaela Delahunty on 9479 5353.

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