Falls and Physical Activity in Persons With Mild to Moderate Dementia Participating in an Intensive Motor Training: Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background:

Physical activity is beneficial in people with dementia. As physical activity increases risk exposure for falls, safety concerns arise. Prior exercise trials in people with dementia have not measured physical activity. Falls in relation to exposure time rather than person-years as outcome measure has been promoted but not investigated in people with dementia.

Methods:

Patients with mild to moderate dementia (n=110) were randomized to an intensive, progressive strength and functional training intervention or to a low-intensity group training for 12 weeks each. Physical activity was measured with a standardized questionnaire. Falls were documented prospectively by calendars for 12 months.

Results:

During the intervention, physical activity was significantly higher in the intervention group (P<0.001) without an increased fall rate (intervention group vs. control group: 2.89 vs. 1.94; incidence rate ratio, 1.49; 95% confidence interval, 0.66-3.36; P=0.333). In the subgroup of multiple fallers, the number of falls per 1000 hours of activity was significantly lower in the intervention group (8.85 vs. 18.67; P=0.017).

Conclusions:

Increased physical activity during exercise intervention was safe in people with mild to moderate dementia. Fall rate adjusted for physical activity is a useful and sensitive outcome measure in addition to fall rate per person-years.

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