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Ther Umsch. 2008 Aug;65(8):421-6. doi: 10.1024/0040-5930.65.8.421.

[Mobility and balance].

[Article in German]

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Akutgeriatrische Universitätsklinik, Universitätsspital Basel, Petersgraben 4, Basel, Switzerland.


Quality of life is strongly associated with the mobility of elderly people. Falls often cause restricted mobility, a decline in activities of daily living and an increased risk of institutionalisation. Frailty, commonly associated with aging, is a biologic syndrome of decreased resistance to stressors, resulting from declines across multiple physiological systems. Changes in mobility and gait constitute part of the frailty syndrome. Since more than one third of persons over the age of 65 fall each year, prevention of falls is very important. Already while taking the patients' history special emphasis should be laid on matters associated with an increased risk of falling, such as the use of more than four medications. To assess mobility several brief tests exist (i.e. Timed up & go [17], Walking while Talking [20]) which immediately yield information regarding mobility and falling risk. Patients with poor performance on such tests or those with a history of several falls should undergo a spatio-temporal gait analysis in order to determine a possible cause as well as suitable interventions. Additionally, the objective measurement of temporo-spatial gait parameters under dual task conditions may detect deficits in cognitive function. Several interventions have been shown to have favourable effects on gait stability and the occurrence of falls. Proprioceptive problems can be partially compensated for by wearing special shoes. Also, different movement exercises such as Tai Chi Chuan, Jaques-Dalcroze eurhythmics and social dancing are associated with better balance and gait safety, and a reduction of falls.

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