Research Into Reducing Falls for People with Dementia

  • By Graeme Brown
  • Apr 04, 2018

Dementia is an area of medicine that is of great interest to researchers and scientists. There is ongoing research into many aspects of this debilitating condition, from looking at prevention to finding medication to treat the symptoms. One recent dementia study has focused on how to reduce the risk of falls in people with dementia.

The study was undertaken at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust with Dr. Victoria Booth acting as the lead investigator. To conduct the study, the team were awarded a Clinical Training Fellowship Grant of £150,408.

Former dementia research has shown that older people with dementia are twice as likely to fall as those who do not suffer from this condition. With this in mind, it would make sense to consider the possibility that others with mild cognitive impairment may also have an increased risk of falls.

The aim of Dr. Booth’s project was to find ways of identifying those who had a greater risk of falls and to look at potential ways of preventing these falls. The project was divided into three separate areas of research.

The first would focus on previous research into people with dementia and reducing and preventing falls.  The second area of the project would concentrate on analysing existing data with the intention of understanding the reasons why people with mild cognitive impairment experience more falls.

The third area concentrated on developing an exercise programme aimed at reducing the likelihood of falls. This involved testing the programme on a group of people who were identified as suffering from mild cognitive impairment. The researchers studied whether the test group had the capability of doing the programme and analysed its effectiveness.

The mechanisms used in the exercise programme involved improving the manner of walking, posture, and memory. Although exercise has previously been used to reduce falls, there has not been research that has specifically focused on the links between sufferers of dementia, falls and exercise.

Dr. Booth’s research showed that people with dementia did experience more falls and that the same applied to those with mild cognitive impairment and memory problems. She has also confirmed that people with mild cognitive impairment have the ability to participate in the exercise programme. Those who participated in this programme showed physical improvements in their manner of walking, their balance, and their risk of falls. The results of the study were published in a variety of medical journals and publications.

There are plans for Dr. Booth to continue developing this exercise programme to further reduce the incidence of falls in those with dementia or mild cognitive impairment. Alongside her research, she is continuing to work as a physiotherapist. Dr. Booth also intends to extend the study to group environments and to people who are suffering from more severe forms of dementia.

Such research is essential in discovering ways to improve the lifestyles of those living with dementia. The findings from these studies can also influence dementia training courses and the way in which support is delivered to individuals.


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