HFSP Postdoctoral Researcher
+61 2 9399 1087
Kim van Schooten is a postdoctoral fellow at NeuRA supported by the Human Frontier Science Program. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2014 from the faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the Netherlands). She was a Mitacs & Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research postdoctoral fellow at the faculty of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia (Canada). Her research focuses on balance control and fall risk in seniors. She is particularly interested in the underlying mechanisms of balance impairments, and methodologies for ambulatory monitoring of mobility using wearable sensors. Through a combination of experimental and epidemiological studies, she studies how people maintain and recover balance during daily-life activities, to improve our understanding of why falls occur and to reveal targets for the prevention of mobility impairments and falls.
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/
Falls are a major health and economic burden in our aging population. Falls occur when we lose our balance and are unable to recover. What limits our ability to maintain and restore balance? This ability is a complex interaction of rapid central processing of accurate sensory information in the brain and rapid peripheral execution of motor responses by the muscles. When one of these processes is impaired, the interplay between brain and muscle functions might allow for compensation or, contrastingly, may limit improvements of balance. This interplay between central and peripheral functions has been strikingly overlooked, while it may underlie balance problems with ageing and disease, and allows for targeted prevention.
The goal of this project is to determine, through detailed analysis of balance and activity behaviour in daily life, how the interplay of central and peripheral impairments contributes to balance problems. Specifically, the goal of the project will be reached by addressing two major aims: (#1 aim) establish how the interplay of central and peripheral impairments affects balance control, and (#2 aim) identify whether prefrontal brain areas govern this interplay.
LILLIAN MILES Research Assistant
These data provide a valuable reference and may call for more age- and gender-specific activity interventions.
eHealth solutions are increasingly being applied to deliver interventions for promoting an active lifestyle in the general population but also in older people. Objective assessment of daily physical activity (PA) is essential to accurately and reliably evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions. This review presents an overview of eHealth interventions that focus on promoting PA in community-dwelling older people, and discusses the methods used to objectively assess PA, and the effectiveness of the eHealth interventions in increasing PA. The twelve eHealth intervention studies that met our inclusion criteria used a variety of digital solutions, ranging from solely the use of an accelerometer or text messages, to interactive websites with access to (animated) coaches and peer support. Besides evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention on objectively assessed PA, all interventions also included continuous self-monitoring of PA as part of the intervention. Procedures for the collection and analysis of PA data varied across studies; five studies used pedometers to objectively assess PA and seven used tri-axial accelerometers. Main reported outcomes were daily step counts and minutes spent on PA. The current evidence seems to point to a positive short-term effect of increased PA (i.e. right after administering the intervention), but evidence for long-term effects is lacking. Many studies were underpowered to detect any intervention effects, and therefore larger studies with longer follow-up are needed to provide evidence on sustaining the PA increases that follow eHealth interventions in older people.