A new balance training app has been found to prevent falls in older people by up to 20 per cent.
StandingTall is a home-based balance exercise program delivered through a tablet computer designed specifically for use by older people.
It has been developed over five years by a team at not-for-profit brain research institute Neuroscience Research Australia's Falls, Balance and Injury Research Centre.
A new study into the StandingTall program has shown promising results in significantly reducing the rate of falls over two years by up to 20 per cent.
Falls are one of the most significant health challenges faced by older Australians, and are the leading cause of hospitalisation among older people.
Every year, a third over-65s experience a major fall, with half of those falling again in the same year.
Published in the British Medical Journal, the two-year trial of just over 500 people aged 70 and older found the app can provide an effective, self-managed fall prevention program for those living independently.
The app contains more than 6000 exercises to help reduce a person's risk of falling for up to two years. It is programmed to suit the ability of the user, and challenges users with increasingly difficult exercises as their balance improves.
With the ability to compete and achieve personal high scores, the program has also been designed to promote adherence and motivation, making it an effective exercise option over the long term.
NeurA's Professor Kim Delbaere, who headed up the study, said e-health exercise programs like StandingTall may be an effective way for older people to maintain their independence and quality of life in the future.
"For over three decades, falls and fall-related injuries have persistently been a leading cause or morbidity and mortality in older people.
"Research has shown that balance exercise programs are among the most effective strategies to prevent falls in older people.
"This is the first trial to provide evidence that an unsupervised, home-based exercise program using technology designed to improve balance can prevent falls in older community-dwelling people.
"The 20 per cent reduction in number of people experiencing a fall that result in an injury over a two year period, could provide significant benefit to the safety and quality of life for our older generation."
The complete study can be found HERE.