Falls represent a major age-related health challenge facing our society, with about one third of older community-living people falling at least once a year, incurring high costs in terms of decreased quality of life as well as significant health and social care expenditure. The principal research objective of the Delbaere group is to reduce the number of falls and improve quality of life of older citizens while containing the burden on carers and on the healthcare system. The overall aim is to find a feasible solution which supports independent ageing, ideally in a home environment.
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Kim Delbaere graduated in 2001 as a master in Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy at the Ghent University (Belgium) and completed her PhD in the area of falls in community-dwelling older people in 2005. In 2006, she moved to Australia to work at Neuroscience Research Australia on fear of falling in older people.
Dr Delbaere is an emerging leading international researcher in the area of falls in older people. She has contributed to the understanding of many of the diverse factors causing falls, from physiological to psychological and cognitive domains.
Over the past years she has become an acknowledged world leader in the area of fear of falling (and its associated impact on fall risk).
She has conducted several large projects that have incorporated prospective cohort studies, experimental studies, pragmatic intervention trials and projects aimed specifically at implementing research findings into policy and practice. She has taken known risk factors for falls, identified key factors contributing to risk, and developed several screening tools and classification trees to help in the prediction of falls in older people. Dr Delbaere translated her research into clinical assessment which has been adopted in several best-practice guidelines over the world. As part of her future work, she will expand her earlier translational work into developing technological solutions.