Otago Exercise Programme to improve balance

The Otago Exercise Programme (OEP) was developed at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  

“The OEP was designed by the Falls Prevention Research Group at the University of Otago Medical School. It consists of a series of leg-strengthening and balance-retraining exercises that get progressively more difficult as you get stronger. It also involves a walking plan. …  The OEP helps to stop you falling if you have weak legs or impaired balance.  It has been shown to reduce your chances of having a fall by 35%. It also reduces the severity of injuries from falls.

> The entire Otago programme can be found and downloaded as pdf at this link: http://www.acc.co.nz/PRD_EXT_CSMP/groups/external_providers/documents/publications_promotion/prd_ctrb118334.pdf

The Otago Programme PDF is also available in Dutch: www.nvfgnet.nl/

> The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) in New Zealand offers information and tips for preventing falls:


>Southwark and Lambeth in London UK uses the Otago Exercise Programme as part of their approach to addressing falls in older people.

“SLIPS (Southwark & Lambeth Integrated Care Pathway for Older People with Falls) is an integrated falls service across health, social, voluntary and leisure sectors in Southwark and Lambeth. …  Under a standardised care pathway, SLIPS aims to deliver a consistent service across the two boroughs. All patients passing through the service receive the same access to falls assessment and treatment, and are provided with individually tailored falls management programmes to suit their specific needs.”

Learn more at: http://www.slips-online.co.uk/healthcareprofessional/otago.aspx

> The Otago Exercise Programme is recommended on the Evidence-Based Nursing website: 

“Evid Based Nurs 2011;14:76-78 doi:10.1136/ebn1157

The Otago strength and balance exercise programme lowers the risk of death and falls in the older people at 12 months

Implications for practice and research:

  • ▪ The Otago exercise programme (OEP) can be recommended by nurses for independently ambulant community-dwelling older people, particularly those 80 years and above.
  • ▪ Community health nurses could consider undertaking training, where available, to deliver the OEP.

Falls are a significant threat to the safety, health and independence of our older citizens. 1 Falls are relatively common, with about one-third of people aged 65 years and above experiencing at least one fall annually. 1 2 A constellation of adverse health outcomes can follow, including serious injury; increased mortality risk; erosion of overall health status, confidence, mobility and independence; and decreased quality of life. 1 2  There is robust evidence that exercise can reduce falls particularly among community-dwelling older people, …

Read more at: http://ebn.bmj.com/content/14/3/76.extract

> Research study on the Otago Exercise Programme:  

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 Oct;56(10):1821-30. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

Otago home-based strength and balance retraining improves executive functioning in older fallers: a randomized controlled trial.

Liu-Ambrose T, Donaldson MG, Ahamed Y, Graf P, Cook WL, Close J, Lord SR, Khan KM.


Centre for Hip Health, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. teresa.ambrose@ubc.ca



To primarily ascertain the effect of the Otago Exercise Program (OEP) on physiological falls risk, functional mobility, and executive functioning after 6 months in older adults with a recent history of falls and to ascertain the effect of the OEP on falls during a 1-year follow-up period.

The above excerpt can be found on PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18795987

The research study can be read in detail here.


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