chapter  35
15 Pages

Biomechanical studies for understanding falls in older adults

ByDaina L. Sturnieks, Stephen R. Lord

Identification of risk factors for falls is important to develop effective strategies for prevention. There are various psychosocial and demographic factors that are associated with a greater risk of falling, including advanced age, restrictions in activities of daily living, fear of falling, depression and a history of previous falls. Older people with multiple chronic illnesses have higher rates of falls than active older people without known pathology or impairments. However, attributing a degree of falls risk to a specific medical diagnosis is problematic because the relative severity of the pathological conditions may vary considerably among individuals. Furthermore, declines in sensorimotor function associated with age, inactivity, medication use, or minor pathology may be evident in older people with no documented medical illness. A more insightful strategy for understanding the intrinsic risk factors for falls is a ‘physiological’ approach that directly considers sensorimotor abilities and impairments irrespective of their cause.