The goal of this translational research study is to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of balance recovery training as an on-site fall prevention exercise intervention for older adults living in retirement communities. Falls are the leading cause of injuries and injury-related deaths among older adults over the age of 65 in the United States. While it is generally accepted that exercise helps prevent falls, exercise does not always reduce the number of falls, and it remains unclear which types of exercise are most effective at preventing falls. Balance recovery training (BRT) is a novel exercise intervention that has that has the potential to decrease the number of falls among older adults by improving their balance recovery ability after common balance perturbations such as tripping. BRT involves repeatedly exposing individuals to postural perturbations in a safe, controlled setting that allows reactive balance recovery to be practiced and improved. We will administer BRT on-site at continuing care retirement communities over four weeks to older adult fallers and determine its effects on balance recovery ability over the following six months compared to another group of older adult fallers performing Tai Chi as an alternative exercise intervention. To further address the potential for BRT to be translated into typical practice within retirement communities, we will also collect data on facilitators and barriers to the long-term sustainability of BRT in retirement communities using qualitative methods. These quantitative (balance recovery ability) and qualitative (implementation process) measures will provide the basis for a subsequent large practical clinical trial to test the effectiveness of BRT on reducing the number of falls among older adults.
Falls are the leading cause of injuries and injury-related deaths among older adults over the age of 65 in the United States. This translational project will evaluate the efficacy of balance recovery training, a novel fall prevention exercise intervention, by administering it to older adult fallers on-site at local retirement communities.