Injurious falls are associated with lower household but higher recreational physical activities in community-dwelling older male veterans.Gerontology. 2008; 54(2):106-15.G
Physical activity (PA) and exercise have numerous beneficial effects in older adults. The effect of sustaining an injury from a fall on subsequent PA levels has received little research attention, even though about a quarter of older adults who fall sustain a serious injury. Even less is known about the effect of injurious falls on different PA categorizations.
To examine the role of injurious falls on subsequent household and recreational PA levels in older community-dwelling males who were all Canadian veterans of World War II and the Korean War.
Data from a fall risk-factor modification trial were used for the present study. Falls and related injuries were ascertained prospectively using fall calendars. A brief, valid and reliable PA interview for older adults (Phone-FITT) measured household and recreational PA approximately 1 year later. Covariates were measured as part of the screening questionnaire administered at the start of the study. Multiple linear regression models were computed using household and recreational PA as dependent variables.
The present study included 200 males with a mean age 81 years (SD = 3.8). Half of the participants fell at least once and about one third reported at least one injury resulting from a fall. Multivariable analyses indicated that household PA scores were 3.1 points lower (95% CI = -5.8 to -0.3, p = 0.03) and recreational PA scores were 3.4 points higher (95% CI = 0.1 to 6.7, p = 0.04) among persons who had one or more falls leading to injury compared to those who did not fall or had one or more falls without injury. Analyses were adjusted for age, baseline PA, self-rated health, foot problems, balance problems, inability to stand without using armrests, vision and memory.
Categorization of PA type (household vs. recreational) suggests distinct differences in PA response following an injurious fall. Use of an overall PA measure would obscure this finding. Following further research, the results from this study may help in the design of preventive strategies to maximize physical activity in those who have sustained an injurious fall.