A FALLS prevention app based around a specific set of balance exercises delivered through a tablet computer is being trialled in Australia and the UK.
The app can be accessed via the internet, making the cost of delivery highly economical and easily deliverable across multiple cultures and languages worldwide.
The world-first technology has been designed by NeuRA and UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine medical researcher Associate Professor Kim Delbaere to address the needs of correcting falls and balance in seniors who are living at home.
The app includes over 2000 exercises with video instructions. It's been designed for older people to use independently at home. Users can choose when and for how long they exercise throughout the week with a recommended dose of two hours of exercise each week.
The exercises are designed to train both static and dynamic balance skills, while standing on the floor or a foam cushion and while stepping in different directions and on a box.
For older people living in rural areas StandingTall can be delivered to a simple in-home mobile device.
"Our previous research has taught us that, to prevent falls, older people should exercise for two to three hours per week, or as little as 20 minutes a day," Associate Professor Delbaere said. "By embracing technology, we are providing an alternative exercise opportunity, which is engaging, fun and motivating, hoping to generate higher levels of adherence over a longer period of time."
Falls are the leading cause in Australia of injury-related hospitalisation in persons aged 65 or older. The Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia 1999-00 to 2014-15 report, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, noted almost 200,000 cases of hospitalised injury during 2014-15 were due to a fall with people aged 65 and over accounting for 56 per cent and women making up 66 per cent of that demographic.
Finding a better way for older people to improve their balance as part of their daily activities program will go a long towards to improving their quality of life.
StandingTall utilises an easy-to-deliver mobile technology platform which enables maintenance, updates, tailoring and exercise progressions to be updated online, while varying levels and challenges keep the participant engaged and challenged at their own rate.
Associate Professor Delbaere said she expects the fully-tested app to be available in Australia within three years.