Compensatory step training reduces falls by older adults. Now what do we do? - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Mon Jan 17

Speaker: Mark Grabiner (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Title: Compensatory step training reduces falls by older adults. Now what do we do?
Abstract: The impact of falls by older adults spans the range from individual to societal.  The incidence of falls by older adults has not changed in decades.
Consequently, the expected growth in the size of the population of older adults will likely increase the absolute numbers of falls, and the related mortality, morbidity and economic costs.  Reducing the incidence of falls by older adults is a major focus of our laboratory.  The development of a novel protocol to induce unexpected trips by subjects walking in a gait laboratory led to the identification of a set of biomechanical variables that statistically discriminated older adults who fell following a trip from those who did not fall. The ability to arrest and reverse the trunk flexion induced by the disturbance appears to be key.  This ability was shown to be rapidly and beneficially influenced by exposure to a relatively small number of postural disturbances that required stepping responses to avoid falling.  This subsequently led to the design and development of a technology that provides the ability to deliver highly controllable postural disturbances ranging from benign to challenging to subjects who are either standing or walking on the platform.  A quasi-prospective investigation of older women showed that a short-term training protocol using the platform significantly reduced the incidence of falls following laboratory-induced trips.  This finding has been extended by an ongoing prospective investigation of the effects of the training protocol on the incidence of falls by older women in the community.  Presently, we are extending the populations for whom this type of training may be beneficial.
Host: Todd Kuiken