A physiotherapy-led telehealth and exercise intervention to improve mobility in older people receiving aged care services: an effectiveness and implementation randomised controlled trial (The TOP UP Study).
Dementia results in cognitive decline, reduced balance and poor mobility. People living with dementia fall twice as often and are three times more likely to break bones and die. A physiotherapist can help older people improve their balance and walking. Older people need to do 2 hours of balance and strengthening exercise per week to reduce their falls risk and maintain their level of independence. This is a challenge in aged care as there are not enough physiotherapists and staff to assist older people with dementia to exercise safely. COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation by restricting physiotherapist’s ability to visit people. Telehealth is emerging as a new way to allow people living with dementia to ‘see’ their physiotherapist online.
We aim to evaluate the effect and acceptability of a telehealth physiotherapy programs on mobility and falls in people living with dementia. We want to understand how to use technology to improve the quality of life for this vulnerable population.
If our trial is effective, we plan to roll the program out to the aged care industry and assist older people living with dementia to maintain their function and independence for as long as possible.
Marina B Pinheiro is a NHMRC Early Career Fellow at the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, a partnership between the University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District.