Our research in the

Mobility and Falls theme

The Physical Activity, Ageing and Disability stream includes research staff, research students and professional staff with a variety of backgrounds including physiotherapy and occupational therapy. We aim to help reduce the global epidemic of physical inactivity.

Approximately 30% of adults aged over 65 fall each year and many report difficulties with mobility. This theme focuses on exercise and other physical activity interventions to prevent falls and enhance mobility.

IMH-led projects

We hope the findings of this project lead to the development of home-based exercise programs to improve strength, balance and reduce falls and improve shoulder functioning in older people.

The aim of this project is to compare the effectiveness of two home-based exercise programs – one aimed at improving lower limb strength and balance for preventing falls and the other aimed at improving upper limb strength and mobility to reduce shoulder dysfunction. Participants are taught the exercises in a group workshop setting and then complete their exercises at home three times each week for 12 months. Participants are provided with a calendar to record their exercises and falls each month, and a program manual and exercise weights.

This project is no longer recruiting.

Principal Investigator: Professor Cathie Sherrington (IMH)

Chief Investigators: Dr Susan Furber (University of New South Wales), Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann (IMH), Professor Kirsten Howard (University of Sydney), Professor Adrian Bauman (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Karen Ginn (University of Sydney) and Dr Paul Van Den Dolder (Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute)

For more information about this project, please contact Professor Cathie Sherrington. This project has received ethics approval from the University of Wollongong and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

This is a NHMRC Partnership Grant (2014 – 2019).

ACTRN12615000865516

We hope the findings of this project lead to increased physical activity, decreased risk of falling and improved eating habits in older people.

The aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of two 12 month healthy ageing strategies among people who attend established, community-based groups. The first intervention is a physical activity and fall prevention intervention, including telephone-based health coaching and written information on physical activity and falls. The second is a nutrition intervention involving telephone-based health coaching and written information about eating habits. The trial also aims to establish the impact of these interventions on physical activity, eating habits, weight (body mass index), goal attainment, mobility confidence, quality of life, fear of falling, risk-taking behaviour, well-being, and mood.

This project is no longer recruiting.

Principal Investigator: Professor Cathie Sherrington (IMH)

Chief Investigators:  Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann (IMH), Professor Dafna Merom (Western Sydney University), Professor Stuart Smith (Southern Cross University), Associate Professor Allison Tong (University of Sydney), Professor Kirsten Howard (University of Sydney) and Professor Chris Rissel (University of Sydney).

For more information about this project, please contact Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann. This project has received ethics approval from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

This is a NHMRC Project Grant (2015 – 2018).

ACTRN12615001190594

SAGE Yoga Trial

We hope the findings of this project lead to the development of a yoga-based exercise program to prevent falls in people aged 65 and over.

The aim of this project is to assess the effectiveness of a 40 week yoga program, compared with an advice booklet, on falls.  We will also assess the effectiveness of the program on other key indicators of healthy ageing, such as mental health, establish the cost-effectiveness of the intervention, and measure the yoga program’s potential for implementation.

Participants allocated to the yoga-based exercise group will attend 40 weeks of twice-weekly, one-hour yoga classes in established yoga studios in Sydney with experienced yoga teachers. Participants will be asked to complete a home-based yoga program for at least two extra 20-minute sessions each week.

This project is currently recruiting. For more information about this project, please contact us at sph.sagetrial@sydney.edu.au

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann (IMH)

Chief Investigators: Professor Cathie Sherrington (IMH), Professor Stephen Lord (NeuRA)

Associate Investigators: Professor Kirsten Howard (University of Sydney), Professor Adrian Bauman (University of Sydney), Professor Chris Rissel (University of Sydney), Professor Robert Cumming (University of Sydney), Professor Kaarin Anstey (NeuRA), Professor Roberta Shepherd (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Patrick Kelly (University of Sydney), Dr Anne Grunseit (University of Sydney), Ms Romina Sesto

This project has received ethics approval.

The sponsor of this trial is The University of Sydney. Funding is from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

We hope the findings of this project lead to enhanced promotion of physical activity by health professionals for people aged 50+ and people of all ages with a physical disability.

The aim of the project is to determine whether a health professional education and support package (workshop, website, on-line discussion, phone/email support) increases promotion of physical activity and frequency of recommendations about attendance at community-based structured physical activity opportunities among people aged 50+ and/or people of any age with physical disabilities compared with waiting list control.

This project is currently recruiting.

Chief Investigator: Professor Cathie Sherrington (IMH)

Associate Investigators: Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann (IMH), Dr Leanne Hassett (IMH), Dr Bethan Richards (IMH), Professor Louise Baur (The Children’s Hospital at Westmead & The University of Sydney), Professor Adrian Bauman (The University of Sydney), Professor Lisa Harvey (The University of Sydney), Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan (University of Sydney), Professor Jennifer Alison (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Ben Smith (University of Sydney), Ms Kate Purcell (IMH), Ms Jenni Cole (Disability Sports Australia), Professor Chris Rissel (University of Sydney & the NSW Office of Preventive Health), Associate Professor Jeff Walkley (Belgravia Leisure), Dr Genevieve Dwyer (Western Sydney University), Ms Kerry West (IMH).

For more information about this project, please contact Kate Purcell.

This project has received ethics approval from Local Health District Ethics Committees and is being funded by Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Rapid Applied Research Translation Grant.

We hope the findings of this project lead to understanding of health professional promotion of parkrun to patients in Australia to help more Australians become active more often.

The aim of the project is to undertake qualitative research with a range of health practitioners as well as with people who lead local parkrun events to explore greater health professional promotion of parkrun in Australia.

Parkrun organise free, weekly, timed 5 km events in parks all around the world. To encourage patients to become more active, a number of general practice surgeries in the United Kingdom have become parkrun practices. In parkrun practices, health practitioners direct suitable patients to local parkrun events and encourage them to participate or volunteer. This project will explore the use of similar approaches in Australia.

Principal investigator: Dr Stephen Gilbert (IMH)

Chief Investigator: Prof. Cathie Sherrington (IMH)

Associate Investigators: A/Prof. Anne Tiedemann (IMH), Dr Anne Grunseit (University of Sydney), Dr Lindsey Reece (University of Sydney).

This project has received ethics approval from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee. For more information about this project, please contact Dr Stephen Gilbert.

We hope the findings of this project lead to understanding of how to adapt the successful Safe Recovery falls reduction program to the acute hospital environment.

The aim of the project is to explore key suggested acute care-specific modifications to the Safe Recovery program from both clinical and patient perspectives and to explore perceived barriers and enablers to successful implementation of the Safe Recovery program in the acute setting. This will be explored through focus groups and interviews among acute care patients and family members, nurses, allied health professionals and medical officers.

This project is currently recruiting.

Principal Investigator: Ms Wendy Tilden (Sydney Local Health District)

Chief Investigator: Professor Cathie Sherrington (IMH)

Associate Investigators: Dr Greg Fairbrother (Sydney Local Health District), Associate Professor Mark Latt (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), Associate Professor Vasi Naganthan (Sydney Local Health District), Professor Bob Cumming (University of Sydney), Ms Annie Hepworth (Sydney Local Health District), Ms Cassandra Chan (Sydney Local Health District), Ms Ruth Perrott (Sydney Local Health District), Mr Francis Ling (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), Ms Charlotte McLennan (IMH).

For more information about this project please contact Charlotte McLennan.

This project has received ethics approval from the Sydney Local Health District Ethics Review Committee and has been funded by the Australia and New Zealand Musculoskeletal Clinical Trials Network Centre of Research Excellence Seed Funding scheme.

Collaborative projects

The aim of this trial is to assess the effectiveness of the Ironbark fall prevention program on reducing the number of falls in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are 45 years and older. This group is compared to control participants who receive a healthy ageing program. The Ironbark program includes interactive discussion about fall risk factors, combined with balance and strength training. It was created after a successful New South Wales pilot and will now run across New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

This study is not yet recruiting participants.

Principal Investigator: Professor Rebecca Ivers (George Institute)

Institute for Musculoskeletal Health Investigators: Professor Cathie Sherrington and Associate Professor Anne Tiedemann

For more information on this George Institute for Global Health trial, please contact Julieann Coombes. This study is funded through the NHMRC.

The intention of the trial is to keep older patients active, independent and engaged with the community by focusing on falls prevention.

This study aims to engage a whole of primary care approach to fall prevention by integrating processes and pathways into general practitioner practices, and programming health professionals to identify older people at risk of falls. This program will focus on people 65 years or older, who have fallen in the past year or are worried about falling, and who reside in the community. The iSolve intervention is a clinical decision tool for general practitioners to provide tailored management plans for elderly patients who have a high risk of falls. It also provides a directory of fall prevention service providers in the patient’s local area.

This study is no longer recruiting participants.

Principal Investigator: Professor Lindy Clemson (University of Sydney)

Institute for Musculoskeletal Health Investigator: Professor Cathie Sherrington

For more information about this University of Sydney trial, please visit the iSOLVE website or contact Professor Lindy Clemson. The study has received ethics approval from the University of Sydney and funding from the NHMRC.

ACTRN12615000401550

Theme leader: Professor Cathie Sherrington

BAppSc (Phty), MPH, PhD, FAAHMS​

Professor Cathie Sherrington is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. She has a clinical background as a physiotherapist in aged care and rehabilitation. Her research focuses on the promotion of physical activity to prevent falls and enhance mobility.