Falls in the older population have devastating consequences on the psychological and physiological health of the individual. Due to the complexity of interacting factors associated with ageing, pathology and falling episodes, determination of a primary cause or set of causes has been difficult to establish. Deficits in components of neuromuscular control have been widely studied with the coordinated interaction of sensory and motor system components being presented as a fundamental factor in the reduction of falling episodes. A causal relationship between deficits in vitamin D status and falling episodes has also been suggested. Furthermore, a relationship between poor vitamin D status, falling episodes and poor neuromuscular performance has been reported. The aims of the current study were designed to advance understanding in three aspects of the problem of falls prevention. Firstly an examination of the reliability of testing procedures commonly used in assessment of falls risk was undertaken. The Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA) testing procedure was selected as a commonly used tool and the reliability of its various components (sensory, motor and balance) was undertaken as an independent assessment of this approach to assessing falls propensity. Secondly, a case control study of fallers and non fallers was undertaken in which the neuromuscular tests evaluated in the reliability study were used to assess differences in neuromuscular control. The influence of vitamin D status on these measures was also considered. Thirdly, a 12-month randomised controlled trial of vitamin D/calcium supplementation or placebo/calcium was undertaken to identify the effect on falls outcome and individual measures of neuromuscular control.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2009|