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    Nutrition and exercise influences on risk of falling in osteoporosis sufferers

    There is a possible link between the risk of falling and the intake of vitamin D, calcium and the use of exercise in elderly people with osteoporosis. To investigate this link Swanenburg and colleagues carried out a pilot study in which to test the hypothesis.

    They performed the pilot study on a small set of 24 independent women who had been medically diagnosed as having osteopenia or osteoporosis. The average age of these women was 71, weight was 59kg, and their bone mineral density T-scores was -1.8 at the hip and -2.7. The women were then split into two groups, one of the groups was given calcium (500-1000mg per day) and vitamin D (400 to 800 IU of cholecalciferol per day) supplements. The other group was given the same supplements and additionally carried out a three month long three times a week exercise program that was aimed to improve balance, muscle strength, co-ordination and endurance. As the women were elderly they were also given protein supplements to help with the strains of exercise.

    Postural balance and risk of falling

    The experiment measured two key factors, namely the postural balance of the osteoporotic people and their risk of falling. The risk of falling was analysed by performing the berg balance Test, whereas posture was measured by use of the AccuSway PLUS system. Both of these methods have been shown to be reliable tests in previous research work. Additionary patients recorded any falls that they suffered during the trial and had their bone mineral density measured before and after the experiment.

    Findings from the analysis of the affect of nutrition and exercise upon balance in osteoporosis sufferers

    Of the 24 people, 20 completed the trial, two left because of serious fracture they received in the time, and two left with out giving a reason. With regards to risk of falling there was a significant decline in the risk of fall in the group taking nutritional and exercise when compared to the group who took nutritional supplements alone. Two of the patients who took part had significant increases in rate of falling, and increase their balance scores significantly; they fell once during the 12 months following the procedure, as opposed to five times before the study. There was no different in the two groups with regards to anterior–posterior balance, however both groups showed improved anterior–posterior balance. Neither group showed improved medial lateral balance.

    It was found that osteoporosis progression slowed down in both of the groups, showing the benefits of mineral and vitamin supplements in female osteoporotic patients. The addition of exercise to the supplementation of calcium and vitamin D in the diet also led to a decrease in the risk of falling. Even nine months after the trial the positive effects of the exercise / supplement routine could be seen.

    References
    Swanenburg et al, (2007). Effects of exercise and nutrition on postural balance and risk of falling in elderly people with decreased bone mineral density: randomized controlled trial pilot study. Clin. Rehabil. 21: 523 to 534