Arnold (2010) The Effect of Aquatic Exercise and Education on Lowering Fall Risk in Older Adults With Hip Osteoarthritis

Introduction to Aquatic Exercise and Education

The prevalence of falls among the elderly, particularly those with hip osteoarthritis (OA), is a significant health concern due to associated risks such as injuries and hospital admissions. Traditional fall-prevention strategies often encompass education and exercise, yet the optimal blend of these elements remains undefined. Older adults suffering from hip OA face unique challenges due to symptoms like lower limb weakness and pain, which may deter them from participating in standard fall-prevention programs. Despite scant evidence, aquatic exercise has been touted for its potential benefits in reducing pain and enhancing physical function and self-efficacy for individuals with lower extremity OA.

Study Objective and Hypothesis

This study aimed to assess the effects of aquatic exercise and an education program on fall risk factors in older adults with hip OA. It was hypothesized that a program combining aquatic exercise with education would yield more significant improvements in fall risk factors than aquatic exercise alone or a control group engaging in usual activities.

Methods and Intervention Programs

The study involved 79 participants, aged 65 and older, diagnosed with hip OA and exhibiting at least one fall risk factor. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups: aquatic exercise with education (AE), aquatic exercise only (A), and a control group continuing with their routine activities (C). The interventions lasted 11 weeks, with the AE group participating in aquatic exercises twice weekly and a 30-minute educational session once a week. The A group engaged only in aquatic exercises, while the control group maintained their regular activities. The primary outcome measures focused on balance, walking and functional performance, falls efficacy, and dual-task function.

Findings and Implications

Results indicated a significant improvement in fall risk factors for the AE group compared to the control group, particularly in falls efficacy and functional performance. The AE group showed enhanced confidence in performing daily activities without losing balance and improved in the number of chair stands, suggesting better lower body strength and endurance. These findings support the hypothesis that a combined aquatic exercise and education program is more effective in mitigating fall risk factors among older adults with hip OA than aquatic exercise alone.

Conclusion and Future Directions

The study concludes that integrating aquatic exercise with an education program can effectively reduce fall risk factors in older adults with hip OA, enhancing both physical and psychological aspects related to falls. This combined approach may offer a more holistic strategy for fall prevention in this population. Future research could explore the long-term effects of such programs and their impact on actual fall rates.

Keywords: hydrotherapy, accidental falls, arthritis, pain, self-efficacy

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