Step up to the plate

With retirees living longer than ever before, health care facilities are struggling to keep up. A Hornsby physiotherapist has responded to this need by launching a research study into why some people are more falls-prone than others – and they need volunteers to step onto their balance plate.

Around one in three Australians over 65 will fall at least once a year, resulting in hospital stays, rehab costs and reduced movement options for seniors. Many are pressured into moving from independent living to assisted care because of family member concerns.

While rehabilitation is current best practice, IC Sports Therapies wants to asses those at potential risk, and offer some simple strategies to reduce it significantly.

Steve Cooke from IC Sports Therapies said: “We’re looking for Hornsby residents between 45 and 75 with no falls in the last five years. Initial testing involves gait analysis and only takes 20 minutes, and will establish which candidates are at risk,

“Clients stand on a stable balance platform with pressure sensors. The computer program measures the amount of pressure changes in the client’s feet, mapping the amount of movement made over a 30 second period.”

Following three more tests involving shut eyes, unstable surfaces and movement axes, the results are calibrated. “Results will indicate relative performance against their age group and 2 or more standard deviations less than the control group is at high risk.Then the team prepares a programme tailored to the needs and abilities of each client.

After three weeks the balance test is done again and the results are compared to the original to see if there’s been improvement.

Steve said: “We’re hoping to see a demonstrable difference after this time. From the work we’ve conducted so far using unstable surface training, and balance exercises, as well as our Vibration programmes, improving proprioception through soft tissue therapies and physiotherapy-based exercises, we’ve been able to improve results on follow-up testing by approximately 40%.

At the end of the study, candidates will be given an assessment of the outcomes and recommendations. To take part in the research call IC Sports Therapies on 9477 3103.

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