Every year, one third of elderly people suffer a fall. The risk of falling increases when people suffer from chronic diseases, and is an often overlooked cause of injury. Conversely, exercise and physical fitness prevent many illnesses and make it easier to deal with them. On basis of this, German researchers are now recruiting for a study to determine if exercise-based therapies can reduce the risk of falls.
"An effective fall prevention increases quality of life and reduces the health costs related to falling," said Dr. Gunver Kienle, principal investigator at the Center for Complementary Medicine at Freiburg University Medical Center. "If elderly people feel safe again in their movement, they will be less afraid of falling and move more independently in everyday life. That would be a significant help. "
A nationwide study led by the Freiburg University Hospital in Germany is now recruiting 550 patients to study whether Eurythmy Therapy or Tai Chi can reduce the risk of falls. The so-called ENTAiER study is a multi-center, randomised, controlled clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness and safety of Eurythmy Therapy and Tai Chi and in older people with chronic illnesses and increased risk of falling.
Eurythmy Therapy is a movement therapy used in Anthroposophic Medicine to harmonize and increase a patient’s overall wellbeing and Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art practiced as well for its health benefits. Both involve gentle physical exercise and emphasise steady and controlled movement, making them interesting candidates for potential treatment of elderly people predisposed to suffer a fall.
The study is recruiting participants aged 65 and over with at least one chronic disease that has led to limited or unsafe movements. Participants will receive regular movement therapy for half a year, while researches examine its impact on balance, mobility and risk of falling. Researchers will also analyse how the exercises affect health-related quality of life, mood and cognition. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the study for four years with approximately two million euros. This is the most ambitious government-backed study on anthroposophic treatment to-date.
Dr. Gunver Kienle
Center for Complementary Medicine
Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Germany
Phone: +49 761 270-82010 or -83200