Penn State College of Medicine receives millions for geriatric exercise program research

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded approximately $14 million to Penn State College of Medicine to study the efficacy of an interdisciplinary exercise regime for seniors who have experienced fall-related fractures.

The program, consisting of strength training, balance exercises and walking, will be run by trained volunteers, which Christopher Sciamanna, MD, professor of medicine and public health, Penn State College of Medicine and colleagues, believe will combat reluctance among older adults who may avoid exercise due to safety concerns.   

The study will enroll 2,000 adults, aged 65 years and older, and will evaluate the prevalence of fall-related injuries, as well as muscle and bone strength, loneliness, depression and emergency medical care usage.

While a two-thirds decrease in fracture risk has been associated with coach-assisted exercise in smaller studies, the researchers hope that data from this larger study will allow Medicare and other insurance providers to see the benefit of covering coaching services for older adults.

“Less than 5 percent of older adults get as much exercise as is recommended to stay fit and strong and to avoid fractures. After a fracture occurs, people get even less exercise because they are concerned about falling. This creates a vicious cycle in which each fall causes people to further limit their activities, which further increases the risk for falling,” Sciamanna said in a press release.

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