A/Prof Kim Delbaere

TEAM LEADER PROFILE

Senior Research Scientist Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW
Research Fellow – Career Development Fellowship (Level 1), NHMRC

+612 9399 1066


Kim Delbaere is a Senior Research Scientist at NeuRA supported by the Australian NHMRC and a senior lecturer at UNSW, Sydney. She 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 NeuRA on fear of falling in older people. She is a leading international researcher in the area of falls in older people. Her research has enhanced the understanding of interrelationships between falls and various physiological, psychological and cognitive factors. In 2011, she was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Achievement Award acknowledging her vision to find technological solutions for older adults to stay independent for longer through improved physical and mental health.

Projects A/Prof Kim Delbaere is currently involved with

CURRENT PROJECTS

StandingTall-Plus: a multifactorial program to prevent falls in older people

A cutting-edge research study on the effectiveness of a multifaceted program including balance exercise, brain training and cognitive behavioural therapy towards reducing falls.

The StandingTall team, led by Associate Professor Kim Delbaere, has worked with over 500 community-dwelling older people since 2015, implementing a home-based balance exercise program delivered through a tablet computer. By embracing technology, we are providing an alternative exercise opportunity, which is engaging and using all the latest evidence to prevent falls. The program has been a success with our participants, evidenced by unprecedented levels of sustained adherence to prescribed balance exercises over two years.

For our next research study, called “StandingTall-Plus”, we have added a cutting-edge brain training program to help people think faster on their feet during daily activities. We are also collaborating with the Black Dog Institute to offer online cognitive behavioural therapy to address depressive thoughts and low mood. All participants will be assessed using a comprehensive test battery of known falls risk factors across physical, cognitive and affective domains. This will then be used to offer each participant a fully tailored program that is suited to their abilities and circumstances. Our primary aim is to reduce the number of falls over a 12-month follow-up period when compared to a health promotion program.

We are currently recruiting for the StandingTall-Plus research study, for more information visit: https://www.neura.edu.au/clinical-trial/standingtall-plus/

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StandingTall-Plus: a multifactorial program to prevent falls in older people

Koori Active and Healthy Ageing Project

The project examines how to implement evidence based healthy brain ageing (dementia prevention) programs in urban and regional Aboriginal communities.

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Koori Active and Healthy Ageing Project

Understanding and preventing physical and cognitive decline and falls in older people with dementia

Falls and functional decline are common in people with dementia. Falls are more likely to result in injury, death and institutionalisation when compared to older people without dementia. There is limited evidence that falls can be prevented in people with dementia. Strategies aimed at maintaining independence and preventing decline and falls are urgently needed. This research will a) further our understanding of fall risk and functional decline and b) explore novel fall and decline prevention programs, including the use of technology in older people with dementia.

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Understanding and preventing physical and cognitive decline and falls in older people with dementia

Interrelationships between physical, cognitive and psychological function and falls

The overall research objective of our ongoing research in this area is to develop a clearer understanding of inter-related underlying mechanisms of the effects across the triad of physical, psychological, cognitive and neural impairments on falls and healthy ageing.

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Interrelationships between physical, cognitive and psychological function and falls

Falls, ageing and dementia in Indigenous Australians

We aim to identify determinants for the high prevalence of dementia in Indigenous Australians, and will now extend these findings by exploring determinants for the high prevalence of falls.

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Falls, ageing and dementia in Indigenous Australians

Innovative approaches to prevent falls in older people

Physical exercise training has been the primary focus of single interventions trials to reduce falls and advance healthy ageing. However, high attrition rates suggest that current approaches are not sufficient to guarantee long-term adherence to exercise in the majority of older adults.

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Innovative approaches to prevent falls in older people

Novel methods for fall prediction in older people

Technological advances have enabled less expensive ways to quantify physical fall risk in the homes of older people.

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Novel methods for fall prediction in older people

RESEARCH TEAM

ALICIA FLYNN Research Assistant : 9399 1036
: a.flynn@neura.edu.au

LILLIAN MILES Research Assistant

PUBLICATIONS

Childhood Stress and Adversity is Associated with Late-Life Dementia in Aboriginal Australians.

Radford K, Delbaere K, Draper B, Mack HA, Daylight G, Cumming R, Chalkley S, Minogue C, Broe GA

High rates of dementia have been observed in Aboriginal Australians. This study aimed to describe childhood stress in older Aboriginal Australians and to examine associations with late-life health and dementia. Childhood stress appears to have a significant impact on emotional health and dementia for older Aboriginal Australians. The ongoing effects of childhood stress need to be recognized as people grow older, particularly in terms of dementia prevention and care, as well as in populations with greater exposure to childhood adversity, such as Aboriginal Australians.

Comparison of Three Cognitive Screening Tools in Older Urban and Regional Aboriginal Australians.

Radford K, Mack HA, Draper B, Chalkley S, Delbaere K, Daylight G, Cumming RG, Bennett H, Broe GA

The MMSE is an effective cognitive screening tool in urban Aboriginal populations. The mKICA is a good alternative when illiteracy, language or cultural considerations deem it appropriate. The RUDAS also has adequate validity in this population.

Prevalence of dementia in urban and regional Aboriginal Australians.

Radford K, Mack HA, Draper B, Chalkley S, Daylight G, Cumming R, Bennett H, Delbaere K, Broe GA

Consistent with previous findings in a remote population, urban and regional Aboriginal Australians face high rates of dementia at younger ages, most commonly Alzheimer's dementia.

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