Elderly 'should learn martial arts'
Published 22/04/2010 | 07:02
Learning martial arts could help the elderly avoid bone fractures, it has been claimed.
No-one is suggesting turning Auntie Flo into a ninja warrior. But fighting disciplines such as kung fu, karate and judo involve techniques that can help brittle-boned patients fall more safely, research suggests.
Scientists carried out a feasibility study using healthy volunteers to see if martial arts fall training could help people with osteoporosis.The research showed that hip fractures could be prevented by teaching the skills to vulnerable elderly patients.
Dr Brenda Groen, from the Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences at Vrije University, Amsterdam, said: "For obvious safety reasons, this could not be directly assessed using persons with osteoporosis.
"Therefore, we measured the hip impact forces during the martial arts fall exercises in a group of young adults.
"Based on our results, however, we believe that fall training would be safe for persons with osteoporosis if they wear hip protectors during the training, perform fall exercises on a thick mattress, and avoid forward fall exercises from a standing position."
The scientists used a force platform - a device similar to a weighing machine - to measure the impact of each fall made by the 12 volunteers, all of whom were experienced in martial arts.
They then compared the results to known information about how much force patients with osteoporosis can withstand and the techniques involve turning a fall into a rolling movement by bending and twisting the trunk and neck.
The findings are reported in the online journal BMC Research Notes.