The Otago fall prevention program has been shown to be effective on physical function in nursing home residents over the age of 65. In a randomized, controlled trial, the Otago exercise program was shown as effective in improving balance, functional mobility, lower limbs muscle strength and functional independence, indicating that it could help in slowing of disability progression. The findings were recently published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics.
Previous studies on the effectiveness on the Otago program was targeted towards community dwelling elders over the age of 80. With this new study, we can include the assessment and treatment components to our skilled nursing home residents in addition to those who reside in independent or assisted living.
An observer-blind randomized controlled study included 77 independently walking, cognitively unimpaired residents aged 78.4±7.6years, of which 66.2% were female. Physical function was assessed at baseline, after 3 and 6months of the Otago exercise program by three performance tests: Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go (TUG) and Chair Rising Test (CRT) and functional independence by the motor Functional Independence Measure.
Significant within participant effects of time in the exercise group for BBS, TUG and CRT (p<0.001) and for mFIM (p=0.010) were found. Between participant effects of groups on Berg, Timed Up and Go, Chair Rising Test and motor Functional Independence Measures. Changes in values of performed three tests regarding physical function were significantly different in exercise group and control group (p<0.001), as well as for functional independence test (mFIM) (p=0.019). In the exercise group, the values got better, while in the control group, values worsened. Effect sizes of change in the exercise group were higher for BBS, TUG and CRT compared to mFIM.
In conclusion, the Otago exercise program was shown as effective in improving balance, functional mobility, lower limbs muscle strength and functional independence, indicating that it could help in slowing of disability progression.