Home exercise can prevent falls in elderly people

March 22, 2001

Effectiveness and economic evaluation of a nurse delivered home exercise programme to prevent falls. 1: randomised controlled trial, 2: controlled trial in multiple centres

Exercise programmes delivered by trained nurses can reduce falls in elderly people and are cost effective in those aged 80 years and older, report two studies in this week's BMJ.

In the first study, 121 men and women aged 75 years and older received an individually tailored home based exercise programme by a trained nurse (exercise group). A further 119 received usual care (control group). Over one year, falls were reduced by 46% in the exercise group compared with the control group. Five falls required hospital admission; all from the control group and all aged over 80 years. The programme cost $NZ1803 (£523) per fall prevented.

In the second study, participants aged 80 years and older received the exercise programme at general practices, resulting in a 30% reduction in falls. The programme cost $NZ1519 (£441) per fall prevented.

Based on these findings, we recommend a home based exercise programme delivered by trained nurses, particularly for those aged 80 years and older, say the authors. Since falls are the costliest type of injury among elderly people, researchers, public health administrators, and health practitioners can work together to benefit elderly people in the community, they conclude.

A John Campbell, Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Otago Medical School, New Zealand


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