Primary Care Interventions Can Reduce Falls in Elderly

Review finds exercise, physical therapy, vitamin D supplementation can lower fall risk

FRIDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A review and analysis of the literature suggests primary care-based interventions can reduce the number of falls suffered by the elderly; the research has been published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Yvonne L. Michael, of the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia, and colleagues abstracted data from 61 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on primary care interventions in community-dwelling older adults that reported falls or fallers as an outcome.

The researchers found evidence in favor of interventions that significantly reduced falling. Specifically, they found 16 RCTs in which interventions involving exercise or physical therapy reduced falling risk (risk ratio, 0.87) and nine RCTs in which interventions involving vitamin D supplementation reduced falling risk (risk ratio, 0.83). In 19 trials that involved multifactorial assessment and management, comprehensive management interventions seemed to reduce falling, but overall pooled estimates did not reach statistical significance.

"Although we conclude that exercise or physical therapy interventions and vitamin D supplementation reduce the risk for falling among community-dwelling older adults, it is unclear whether comprehensive multifactorial assessment and management interventions reduce the number of fallers. Overall, we found no major clinical harms for these effective interventions to prevent falls in older adults," the authors write.

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