Podiatry support crucial to prevent falls

Podiatry support crucial to prevent falls

20 Jun 2011

A multifaceted podiatry intervention can reduce the rate of falls in older people by 36 per cent according to the first ever trial of podiatry in falls prevention by a team of researchers from La Trobe University.

podiatryMr Martin Spink, a PhD candidate who conducted the study, says components of the intervention are inexpensive and simple to implement.

‘The 12 month trial showed that a comprehensive intervention in community dwelling older people with disabling foot pain could reduce falls, this suggests that the programme could be incorporated into routine podiatry practice or multidisciplinary falls prevention clinics,’ says Mr Spink.

Recently published in the British Medical Journal, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded trial addressed falls in older people, a major public health problem with 1 in 3 people aged over 65 falling each year.

Over 300 participants took part in the study and were split into a control group and intervention group. Both groups were asked to continue existing podiatry treatment.

The intervention group was also given a multifaceted intervention package on top of basic care.  It consisted of foot orthoses, footwear advice and provisions, a home based foot and ankle exercise program and an educational booklet on falls prevention.

The intervention group were asked to perform a standardised 30 minute home based exercise programme three times a week says Mr Spink.

‘Significant improvements in the intervention group compared with the control group were found for the domains of strength, range of motion and balance. The reduction in falls is likely to be related to the significant improvements found in several measures of foot and ankle strength and functional ability,’ he says.

Professor Hylton Menz, Director of the Musculoskeletal Research Centre and chief investigator of the study, says that any podiatrist at any setting could implement this comprehensive package to older people at risk of falling.

The study —Effectiveness of a multifaceted podiatry intervention to prevent falls in community dwelling older people with disabling foot pain: randomised controlled trial— was published 17 June 2011 in the British Medical Journal.

For any media enquiries please contact:

Meghan Lodwick


La Trobe University Communications Officer 
T: 03 9479 5353 E: M.Lodwick@latrobe.edu.au

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