METHODS: This descriptive study gathered information about balance problems and other risk factors for falls in a local population aged 65 and older. Participants were recruited through a variety of outreach methods, and all were provided with an educational intervention. Data were collected at each of two visits through questionnaires, interviews, and physical examinations. Balance was assessed on both visits using the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, the Berg Balance Scale, and the One Leg Standing Test.
RESULTS: Advertising in the local senior newspaper was the most effective method of recruitment, although networking at senior centers also proved to be valuable. The majority of our participants were white, well-educated, healthy and physically active females, many of whom were working part-time. Use of multiple medications and a reported fall within the past year were found to be common. Most participants performed the recommended balance exercises and evaluated their home for fall hazards. Mitigation of fall hazards and short-term change in balance test performance was not found. The One Leg Standing Test demonstrated the greatest measurable change.
CONCLUSIONS: Community-dwelling seniors are interested in participating in chiropractic research targeting falls, and the best way to recruit participants is a combination of targeted newspaper ads and personal contact through senior centers. Future studies should further examine the OLST as a simple test for balance and risk for falls, and whether chiropractic care can bring about clinically significant improvement.
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