Research Project – Reducing Falls

Thanks to a grant from Healthcare Management Trust, new research will be undertaken into reducing the risk of falls for adults with a mild cognitive impairment.

The project, supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, will be delivered by Victoria Booth, a Senior Physiotherapist, through a 3 year clinical training fellowship at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Various studies have reported that if an older adult has dementia they are more at risk of falls. This project seeks to establish whether we can identify and treat older adults with a mild cognitive impairment who are at risk of falling. The researcher will develop and test interventions to reduce the risk of falls that specifically address the additional challenges that people with cognitive problems face. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of people with dementia by reducing the number of falls and injuries associated with them.


What do we already know?

Our risk of falling increases naturally as we age, due to problems with vision, muscle strength, balance and environmental factors. In fact, one third of all adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. In a healthy older population, most of the factors that contribute to falls can be treated or adapted to reduce this risk. Reductions in the number of falls an older adult experiences can be reduced through rehabilitation programmes targeting strength and balance re-training. However most of the research that has investigated these treatments excludes adults with any problems with their thinking.

What is our research aiming to achieve?

Our project seeks to answer one main question: Can we identify and treat adults with a mild cognitive impairment who are at risk of falling? 

 This project is a collection of 3 smaller projects, each feeding into the other.

  • The first part will look at research already published in order to understand which methods are currently used and what research in the area has been done previously relating to people with dementia.
  • The second stage of the study will use already-collected data from a previous study of people with mild cognitive impairment, reanalysed to look at this particular question.
  • 
The third stage of the project will develop and test an intervention to reduce the risk of falls in people with dementia, which specifically addresses the additional challenges that people with cognitive problems face.
 How will this benefit people with dementia?

The ultimate goal of this research is to improve the life of people with dementia by reducing the number of falls and injuries associated with them. Falls are costly in money, time and energy, to patients, their carers and the NHS. Reducing the number of falls a person with dementia has could both ease the physical and emotional strain placed on  their carer and reduce painful injuries to the person with dementia.