Neuromuscular electrical stimulation in elderly fallers

Is neuromuscular electrical stimulation an alternative to physiotherapy based falls reduction programs?

Falls in the elderly represent a major health and economic burden leading to fractures, immobility and mortality. The age-related decline in muscle mass (sarcopenia), balance deficits and altered gait parameters have been strongly linked with falling in elderly population. Physiotherapy programs targeting these parameters are effective in improving muscle power, balance and reducing falls rates.

However, there are geographical, economic and logistical barriers in many countries which prevent elders from participating in such programs. The use of home based neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been previously shown to be effective at increasing muscle power in several groups, but high level evidence assessing the impact of NMES on elders falls risk is currently lacking. 

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