StandingTall, the results are in! How technology and home exercise can improve your balance
So, we developed the StandingTall program…
The StandingTall program was created to provide a home-based balance exercise program that is tailored to an individual’s abilities, can be completed at any time and is delivered via an app or a website.
The StandingTall program was designed by trained physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. It includes over 6000 exercise variations to reduce boredom, in addition to goal setting, exercise reminders and a monthly balance assessment so you can keep track of your progress.
As the user improves, the exercise program progresses so that it remains challenging but safe. If you have an injury or have been on holidays, the exercises can be adjusted to ensure it always matches your current ability.
Is StandingTall effective?
Yes, it is!
A randomised controlled trial involving 503 community-dwelling adults aged 70+ ran for 5 years from 2015 – 2019, half of whom received a health education program alone and continued with their usual activities and half were given the StandingTall program for 2 years.
The first success was that people liked using the program. Four in five participants used the program for at least 6 months, over two thirds continued to use the program for 1 year and over half remained to engage with the program for 2 years.
Across the entire sample (so that means we included those people who stopped using the program for health or other reasons), we saw a statistically significant 16% reduction in fall rate and a 20% reduction in injurious falls for 2 years in the people who were offered StandingTall compared to the group who received health education alone.
What is the take home message?
- People who exercise with StandingTall will lower their chance of suffering an injury from a fall by 20%.
- People used the program for a long time, most importantly, long enough to make a significant difference in fall risk.
- These are very promising results supporting the use of a technology-based exercise program as an effective tool in preventing falls.
- Participant response to the program was very positive, and feedback received is being used to further improve future versions of the program.
But we are not stopping here!
We have completed a follow-on study, StandingTall-Plus, which added a brain training element. Results of this trial are expected to be released in 2022.
- We are testing StandingTall with a psychological program aimed at improving confidence in daily activities that involve balance in our Own Your Balance study.
- We have had the opportunity to use StandingTall in other research areas including Aboriginal and Māori communities, stroke and cardiovascular patients, home and residential aged care settings, and within a multinational implementation study across select health districts in New South Wales, Victoria, and Northern England.
- We are now working with collaborators to keep improving StandingTall and include a larger range of exercise activities.
- We are also looking for opportunities to make StandingTall available to the wider public.
If you would like to read the full results published in the British Medical Journal, you can access the paper at the following website: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n740
Why is StandingTall important?
Falls occur in 1 in 3 adults aged 65+ each year. The risk of a fall increases with age, with 1 in 2 adults aged 85+ experiencing a fall each year. Some of these falls result in serious injury.
Staying physically active and engaging in appropriately challenging balance exercise can help maintain your balance and prevent falls. Based on previous research, we know that 2 hours of balance-specific exercise per week, over at least 6 months, is the most effective way to prevent falls.
However, finding an exercise program that is the right intensity, accessible, engaging, and meaningful to encourage long-term participation can be challenging.