Senior Principal Research Fellow, NHMRC
Conjoint Professor, UNSW
+612 9399 1061
Professor Stephen Lord is a Senior Principal Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia. He has published over 400 papers in the areas of balance, gait and falls in older people and is acknowledged as a leading international researcher in his field. His research follows two main themes: the identification of physiological risk factors for falls and the development and evaluation of fall prevention strategies. Key aspects of this research have been the elucidation of sensorimotor factors that underpin balance and gait and the design and evaluation of exercise programs for older people including those at increased risk of falls, i.e. people with Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dementia and frailty. His methodology and approach to fall-risk assessment has been adopted by many researchers and clinicians across the world and he is actively engaged in initiatives aimed at implementing falls prevention evidence into policy and practice.
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.
VICKY SMITH Executive Assistant
JESSICA TURNER Research Assistant
JOANNE LO Research Assistant
CAMERON HICKS Research Assistant
DR ESTHER VANCE Senior Research Assistant
DANIELA MEINRATH Masters student
DR YOSHIRO OKUBO
JOANA CAETANO PhD student
MAYNA RATANAPONGLEKA Research Assistant
PROF CATHIE SHERRINGTON Senior research officer
To determine whether 12-week home-based exergame step training can improve stepping performance, gait and complementary physical and neuropsychological measures associated with falls in Parkinson's disease. Overall, home-based exergame step training was not effective in improving the outcomes assessed. However, the improved physical function in the lower disease severity intervention participants as well as the self-reported improved mobility in the intervention group suggest home-based exergame step training may have benefits for some people with Parkinson's disease.
To investigate physiological risk factors for falls in people with self-reported lower limb arthritis. Older people with lower limb arthritis are at increased risk of falling due to deficits in neuromuscular systems. A physiological falls-risk profile based on mean test scores for the arthritis group highlights deficits in muscular strength, knee proprioception, and standing balance, indicating the need for targeted falls prevention interventions for this population.
Balance calls upon contributions from vision, peripheral sensation, vestibular sense, muscle strength, neuromuscular control and reaction time. With increased age, there is a progressive loss of functioning of these systems and an increased likelihood of falls. Falls can mark the beginning of a decline in function and independence and are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in older people. By using simple tests of vision, leg sensation, muscle strength, reaction time and standing balance, it is possible to identify accurately older people at risk of falls and assess intervention outcomes. This approach overcomes the limitations associated with traditional methods of assessing falls risk via medical diagnoses, including varied severity between individuals. Using a physiological approach provides information at the impairment and functional capacity levels to assist in understanding falls and developing and evaluating optimal falls prevention strategies for older people.