Research into whether physiotherapy coaching and Fitbits can help older adults complete strength and balance exercise programs designed to prevent falls received funding from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Megan Oakey (pictured), Provincial Manager of the Injury Prevention Program with Population and Public Health at the BC Centre for Disease Control and member of the BCIRPU, is part of the team that was awarded $500,000 over three years through the Implementation Science Team Project grant. The funding will be used to study the implementation of a strength and balance training program that can reduce falls in older adults.

Each year, 30 percent of seniors have at least one fall and nine out of 10 hip fractures result from falls. While exercise programs are a proven intervention, as few as 25 percent of older adults will continue programs once they begin.

For this study, the team will compare outcomes when the exercise program is delivered by physiotherapy coaching and Fitbit technology compared to traditional delivery The team will measure the degree to which the program is followed by seniors at 12, 18 and 24 months, number of falls and risk of falling. In addition, the team will assess the cost-effectiveness of delivering the program.

Oakey hopes the coaching and Fitbit program may make it easier for older adults, regardless of where they live or who may have difficulty accessing community programs, to participate in an at home strength and balance exercise program.

The project will be hosted at the University of British Columbia and includes collaborators from Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Simon Fraser University, Arthritis Research Canada, and more.

For more information, see the announcement on the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research’s website.

This article first appeared on the Provincial Health Services Authority intranet.