Fall episodes are not unusual among community residents, especially the elderly, and lower muscle strength is an important issue to address in order to prevent falls.
A community health survey was conducted in a suburban area of Taiwan, and 1067 older adults were selected for enrollment in the present study. All the enrolled subjects had been visited at their homes; the subjects’ strength of both hands and muscle mass of both legs were measured and well-established questionnaires were finished by certificated paramedic staffs.
The incidence of fall episodes in the previous 1 year in the Yilan elderly population was 15.1%, and the female predominance was significant. A significantly higher prevalence of cataracts was found in group who experienced a fall in the past year (64% vs. 54.9% in the non-fall group). Mild or more severe dementia was much more prevalent in the group who experienced a recent fall (33.8% vs. 25.7% in the non-fall group). The strength of both hands tested as the physical function was 17.6 ± 8.0 kg in the recent fall group, significantly weaker than that in the non-fall group (20.7 ± 8.7 kg). Multivariate regression analysis revealed a greater weekly exercise duration and greater strength of both hands reduced the occurrence of falls among the whole and the female population. The standardized effect sizes of hand grip strength between both groups, not trivial, were 0.29 and 0.37 for the total population and the female subpopulation respectively.
Less weekly exercise duration and weaker muscle strength were f ound to be independent risk factors of fall episode(s) in an elderly Taiwanese population, especially in the female sub-population. Muscle strength, measured by average of both hands grip strength, was the most significantly factor of one-year fall episode(s) accessed retrospectively.