Monday, 12 December 2016

Monash Physiotherapist recognised for research to help balance exercise training in older patients

Director, Allied Health Research Unit 
Professor Terry Haines and Melanie Farlie
Congratulations Monash Health physiotherapist and Monash University PhD candidate Melanie Farlie, who was awarded Best Student Oral Presentation at the 7th Biennial Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference in Melbourne last week.

A Maxwell King PhD scholar at Monash University, Melanie is developing and validating a scale to rate the intensity of exercises that challenge balance in older adults.

“Currently, there is no validated scale available to measure the intensity of balance exercise training, unlike strength training and aerobic exercise which have well established validated intensity measures,” said Melanie.

“The implication of this is that clinicians do not have an accurate measure of how hard patients are working, and patients are unable to reliably self-monitor how hard they are working during balance exercise training.” 

Melanie said that a validated measure of balance exercise intensity could potentially improve exercise prescription efficacy—informing how hard people need to exercise to improve their balance ability without undue risk.
“We don’t know if people need to work to the level that they are just short of falling over to improve their balance ability (currently the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines),” said Melanie.  

“Once a validated measure of balance exercise intensity has been developed we can start trials of older adults working at low, medium and high balance intensity levels to determine the optimal training intensity and the optimal frequency and duration of exercise programs, to both improve balance and prevent falls.”

In further good news, Melanie was awarded a Lions John Cockayne Memorial Fellowship Trust Fund Travelling Fellowship last week, which will enable her to attend the World Confederate of Physical Therapy (WCPT) congress in Cape Town, Africa in July 2017. 

Melanie will present her PhD findings at the WCPT congress, and also bring back the most up-to-date practice information to the Physiotherapy and broader rehabilitation teams at Monash Health.

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