With at least four people over the age of 65 dying every day as a result of a fall, the caring sector is going to great lengths to reduce the various risk factors for falls, which for older people include poor balance, strength and functional ability. Hence, Medway PCT’s Falls Prevention Service in Kent installed a BalanceMaster™ machine seven years ago, to help save lives.
Clare Dock is Acting Falls Manager at the service’s base at St Barts Hospital in Rochester, and says there is much that can be done within the caring sector to prevent falls, from reviewing medication to improving patients’ balance and coordination through exercise. “The average age of attendees at the Falls Service base is 80,” she explains. “Falls are never a laughing matter, but the consequences for an older person can be catastrophic, from loss of confidence or motivation, to depression and avoidance of daily activities,” she says.
“When used regularly, studies have shown the BalanceMaster™ can improve lower limb strength, power and balance, and reduce asymmetry between a patient’s legs. A further, important factor for us is our patients’ increased balance confidence when using the BalanceMaster™ machine, which can only help prevent further falls.”
The Prevention of Falls Network Europe (ProFaNE)’s Scientific Co-ordinator, Dr. Dawn Skelton, has extensively studied the effects of different forms of physical activity on balance and functional ability, and found the BalanceMaster™ to show significant increases in patients’ functional capacity when used regularly. “This piece of equipment can be used very effectively to increase hip and lower limb muscle strength and promote function in subjects with general weakness, or following specific injury,” Dr Skelton adds.