Fall risk in older persons increased by toe weakness and deformity

October 2, 2009

Reduced toe flexor strength and the presence of toe deformities increase the risk of falling in older persons, according to researchers at the Biomechanics Research Laboratory, University of Wollongong, in Australia

Reduced toe flexor strength and the presence of toe deformities increase the risk of falling in older persons, according to researchers at the Biomechanics Research Laboratory, University of Wollongong, in Australia. Mickle and colleagues1 assessed the feet of 312 men and women aged 60 to 90 years for the presence of lesser toe deformities and hallux valgus. A pressure platform and novel test protocol were used to evaluate hallux and lesser toe flexor strength. Participants were monitored prospectively to determine their incidence of falls over 12 months.

During the follow-up, 35% of the participants experienced a fall. Fallers displayed significantly less strength of the hallux and lesser toes and were more likely to have hallux valgus and lesser toe deformity than those who did not fall. The authors concluded that interventions designed to increase strength of the toe flexor muscles combined with treatment of older persons with toe deformities may help reduce the risk.

References:

1. Mickle KJ, Munro BJ, Lord SR, et al. Toe weakness and deformity increase the risk of falls in older people. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2009 Sep 12; [Epub ahead of print].