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Hopkins to study how to stop seniors from falling

Johns Hopkins researchers will share in a $30 million grant that aims to find the best methods of preventing falls, a big problem for seniors.

Ten institutions will begin recruiting seniors in the fall for a five-year study that will compare existing strategies to stop fall-related injuries.

Hopkins will recruit 500-600 seniors with modifiable risk factors for a serious fall. They will be assessed for risk and either given the standard of care, which is mostly information about preventing falls, or an experimental individualized care plan.

“We will identify and recruit people 75 and older who are at risk for falls and assess the effectiveness of individually tailored care plans for preventing them,” says Dr. Albert Wu, professor of health policy and management in the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health and principal investigator for the Hopkins site.

 “The study’s approach differs from other research in that it will integrate already proven falls-reduction strategies into cohesive interventions that can be adopted by many health care systems.”

Hopkins will receive $2 million of the grant, funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Approximately a third of people 65 and older fall every year, and a third of those are moderately to severely injured. That can lead to poor health and loss of independence, the researchers said.

The researchers say prevention is key keeping seniors independent.

“If this study can demonstrate the value of already proven strategies and change practice patterns nationwide, it has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for millions of older adults,” said Dr. Jeremy Walston, associate professor of geriatrics in Hopkins’ School of Medicine and principal investigator for the Hopkins’ Older American Independence Center.

Other sites in the study are: Essentia Health, Duluth, Minn.; HealthCare Partners, Torrance, Calif.; Mount Sinai Health System, New York City; Partners HealthCare, Waltham, Mass.; Reliant Medical Group, Worcester, Mass.; University of Iowa Health Alliance, Iowa City, Iowa; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh; University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston Health; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


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