Because adults 65 and older are less active than other age groups, they are at an increased risk for falls. The Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities has begun research to help health practitioners better identify older adults who are at risk for falling and help those practitioners create fall-prevention programs.
Student and faculty researchers launched a pilot study in fall 2009 involving 25 older adults from the Plymouth region. The subjects completed two surveys; one collected their medical, physical-activity and falls history, and the second measured their balance-related self-confidence. They subsequently completed three physical tests:
- SAM MatScan System assessment, a center of foot pressure test
- Senior Fitness Test
- Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale
Researchers sought to determine the reliability of the SAM MatScan System in measuring center of pressure with an independent, older adult sample. They also sought to examine the relationship between physical factors (such as static/dynamic balance, functional fitness and center of pressure), psychological factors (fear of falling) and fall risk.
While compiling results of the yearlong pilot study, the Center is seeking to extend its fall-risk research to a larger population sample.