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Seniors can better prevent falls if they practice martial arts Continue reading on Examiner.com: Seniors can better prevent falls if they practice martial arts
Posted on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 11:03 am
by IDMA Editor

A new set of guidelines promotes exercise, including the slow, controlled movements in martial arts like tai chi, as a way to prevent falls among older adults, says a recent report from the Yale Office of Public Affairs.

Seniors are inclined to fall if they don't take heed - photo morguefile.com

Yale School of Medicine Professor Mary Tinetti, M.D., co-chaired a panel of experts who developed the guidelines for the American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatrics Society. They are published in the January issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Falls are not only associated with significant injury and death in the older population, but are also linked to reduced independence and early admission to long-term care facilities. For older adults, effective fall prevention may reduce fall-related injuries, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, nursing home placements and functional decline.

The new guidelines, notes the Yale OPA report, which are the first update from a 2001 version, now recommend:

Interventions that include exercise for balance, gait and strength training, such as tai chi or physical therapy;

Reducing fall risk factors in daily activities and in the home, such as adding grab bars in bathrooms or removing any clutter from floors or around stairs;

Reducing medications, particularly those that affect the brain, such as sleeping medications and antidepressants;

And elevating blood pressure drops when standing, and managing heart rate and rhythm abnormalities.

“There is emerging evidence that the rate of serious fall injuries, such as hip fractures, is decreasing modestly in areas in which fall prevention is integrated into clinical practice,” said Tinetti.

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