Postdoctoral Fellow, NeuRA
NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow. Conjoint Lecturer, Prince of Wales Clinical School, Medicine. UNSW Honorary Research Fellow, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney
+612 9399 1852
Morag is an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Fellow (2016-2019) undertaking a suite of studies investigating disability and fall prevention in community-dwelling older people living with dementia. She completed her PhD (part-time) in 2014, titled ‘Understanding fall risk in cognitively impaired older people’. Prior to this, Morag completed her Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy in 1999. She worked clinically for more than 15 years, predominantly at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney on the Aged Care Rehabilitation ward and in the Falls, Balance and Bone Health Clinic.
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.
: +612 9399 1124
ELIZABETH ARMSTRONG Senior Research Facility Manager
DR LARA HARVEY Postdoctoral Fellow
STEFANIE MIKOLAIZAK Postdoctoral Fellow
CHRISTINA NORRIS PhD student
BARBARA TOSON Bio-statistician
ASSOC PROF REBECCA MITCHELL Visiting Senior Research Scientist
LYNDELL WEBSTER Research assistant
NARELLE PAYNE Research assistant
JACQUELINE WESSON Research assistant
CECELIA KOCH Research assistant
GENEVIEVE ZELMA Research assistant
ROSLYN SAVAGE Research assistant
SANDRA O’ROURKE Research assistant
BEATRICE JOHN Research assistant
To develop and internally validate a simple falls prediction tool for rehabilitation settings. This tool provides a simple way to quantify the probability with which an individual patient will fall during a rehabilitation stay.
This study identified several risk factors of falls in older people with cognitive impairment, a number of which are potentially modifiable. Future research involving targeted interventions addressing medication use, balance, mood, and functional performance may prove useful for fall prevention in this population.
Impaired gait may contribute to the increased rate of falls in cognitively impaired older people. We investigated whether gait under simple and dual task conditions could predict falls in this group. The study sample consisted of 64 community dwelling older people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment. Participants walked at their preferred speed under three conditions: (a) simple walking, (b) walking while carrying a glass of water and (c) walking while counting backwards from 30. Spatiotemporal gait parameters were measured using the GAITRite(®) mat. Falls were recorded prospectively for 12months with the assistance of carers. Twenty-two (35%) people fell two or more times in the 12month follow-up period. There was a significant main effect of gait condition and a significant main effect of faller status for mean value measures (velocity, stride length, double support time and stride width) and for variability measures (swing time variability and stride length variability). Examination of individual gait parameters indicated that the multiple fallers walked more slowly, had shorter stride length, spent longer time in double support, had a wider support width and showed more variability in stride length and swing time (p<0.05). There was no significant interaction between gait condition and faller status for any of the gait variables. In conclusion, dual task activities adversely affect gait in cognitively impaired older people. Multiple fallers performed worse in each gait condition but the addition of a functional or cognitive secondary task provided no added benefit in discriminating fallers from non-fallers with cognitive impairment.