CUHK Shares the Fruits of Community Fall Prevention Program and Research Findings after a Decade of Dedication in Reducing Fall and Fracture Among the Elderly
With the aging population in Hong Kong, there is an ever increasing number of elderly with fall-related injuries or fractures, and society is shouldering the burden of the associated growing medical expenses. According to the Hospital Authority, there were 32,636 elders admitted to hospital after falls in 2008, of which 28,539 had bone fractures and 198 died subsequently. The situation is alarming. Besides, the cost of related medical care amounted to HK$2 billion a year. Over the past decade, the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been dedicated to promoting fall and fracture prevention in the community coupling with research and development in fall prevention equipment. Led by Prof. Leung Kwok-Sui, Director of Orthopaedic Learning Centre and Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, CUHK, the Community Fall Prevention Program (the Program) is committed to providing various training courses to different age groups. The Program then gradually evolved by extending care to patients who are rehabilitating to the community after fractures. The services spanned over the New Territories, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and outlying islands.
To conclude, the Program has three major achievements in the past decade. First is the dissemination of fall and fracture prevention knowledge to almost 30,000 people. Second is the provision of a wide spectrum of services to more than 6,000 elderly, including mobile checkup, fall risk assessment, balance test and bone density assessment. Third is the provision of rehabilitation services to the fractured elders since 2007. A total of 11 fall prevention clinics and centres have been established in Shatin and 2,600 patients have benefited from the treatment and monitoring given by doctors and physiotherapists. Their mobility and balance ability showed a significant improvement after joining the Program, resulting in higher quality of life and reduced risks of subsequent fractures. However, due to limitation on resources and other objective environmental factors, only 17% of the fractured elderly could benefit from this Program. Professor Leung therefore suggests the public to have more concerns in fall and fracture prevention, and urges the government to provide more supportive measures.
The Fall Prevention Team also conducted research and development projects for improving the musculoskeletal health of the elderly. The two core projects are the development of an interactive weightbearing exercise platform and the development of fall prevention shoes. Interactive weighbearing exercise has been applied on patients with hip fractures and the elderly in the community. Results showed that a low amplitude and high frequency exercise can facilitate the healing of bone fracture and prevention of osteoporosis. There are also significant improvements in muscle strength of legs and overall balance ability. In the development of fall prevention shoes, foot anthropometric data of 500 Chinese elderly were collected. By incorporating a novel concept of mechanical stimulation, the shoes have been successfully developed and a large scale community trial has just been completed. These products will be available on the market for the betterment of the public in the very near future. For enquiries, please contact the CUHK Fall Prevention Team at 2632 2756 or visit its website: www.no-fall.hk.