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.
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
When compared to less frequent fallers, more frequent fallers had a lower risk for injury per fall. This appeared to be explained by differences in the circumstances of falls, and not by protective responses. Injury prevention strategies in long-term care should target both frequent and infrequent fallers, as the latter are more mobile and apt to sustain injury.
Falls are a major health concern for older adults. Understanding sex differences in fall circumstances may guide the design of fall management plans specifically to men and women. In this study, analyzed real-life falls captured on video to compare scenarios leading to falls between men and women in 2 long-term care (LTC) facilities. Our results elucidate differences between older men and women in the scenarios that lead to falls, to inform sex-specific fall prevention strategies in the LTC setting.
Identification of the factors that influence sedentary behaviour in older adults is important for the design of appropriate intervention strategies. In this study, we determined the prevalence of sedentary behaviour and its association with physical, cognitive, and psychosocial status among older adults residing in Assisted Living (AL). We found that sedentary behaviour among older adults in AL associated with TUG scores and falls-related self-efficacy, which are modifiable targets for interventions to decrease sedentary behaviour in this population.