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Physios publish new guidance on falls prevention

New guidelines could help physiotherapists to persuade commissioners to fund evidence-based measures to prevent falls among older people.

The guidelines – the first in the UK to focus solely on physiotherapy – were developed by AGILE, the CSP professional network for physios working with older people.

Launching the guidelines, AGILE chair Janet Thomas said the advice updated guidelines published in 1998, which had been drawn up in association with occupational therapists.

Among the changes is an increased emphasis on the steps physiotherapists can take to help prevent falls, including specific recommendations on exercise programmes.

These should have a ‘high balance challenge component’, and be delivered at a high ‘dose’, Ms Thomas said.

 ‘We’re saying that it really needs to be 50 hours – roughly twice a week for six months.

‘I hope that physiotherapists will be able to use this guideline to show commissioners that this is a really important issue.’

Dr Victoria Goodwin, of the University of Exeter, who co-wrote the document, said she hoped clinicians would find it user-friendly.

’It’s very short but it contains the information that physiotherapists need. Other guidelines can be quite general and can end up just sitting on a shelf.’

The document is a mix of key messages, practice points to consider, and several key aims.

These include preventing falls, improving older people’s ability to withstand threats to their balance, and optimising confidence and reducing fear of falling.

The AGILE publication is titled Guidelines for the physiotherapy management of older people at risk of falling.

Copies can be downloaded from the AGILE website: agile.csp.org.uk

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