Free exercise trials address osteoporotic fractures in ageing population

It’s one of the most costly and debilitating issues for older women, but Griffith University researchers are offering free trial treatments in the hopes that their studies will help reduce burden of osteoporotic fractures in Australia.

Osteoporosis is a major healthcare problem leading to a high incidence of fragility fractures in the ageing population.

While often considered an “old person’s disease”, in Australia, one in two women over 60 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Hip fractures are particularly costly financially and in terms of pain and suffering.

Griffith Allied Health researchers Prof Belinda Beck and PhD candidate Melanie Fischbacher are offering free exercise treatments at Brisbane and Gold Coast locations as part of an osteoporosis research trial.

The normal cost of this type of treatment is valued at more than $2000.

Currently, medication is the primary therapy to improve bone mass and prevent osteoporotic fractures. However, most hip fractures occur due to falls.

“The medications, while helpful for bone mass, won’t improve muscle strength or boost balance to prevent those falls” Fischbacher said, who runs the Brisbane-based trial.

“But a combination of medication and exercise could help osteoporosis sufferers both increase their bone mass and prevent falls by boosting muscle strength and balance.”

Prof Beck’s Gold Coast-based trial incorporates whole body vibration (WBV), which is a novel therapy that has been shown to improve bone mass in animal studies.

“Some human research has also reported promising findings, but a large enough study has not yet been conducted to know for sure. Exercise is known to be beneficial for bone, but its effect in combination with vibration is unknown,” Prof Beck said.

“These two novel strategies to enhance the efficacy of bone medications could change the accepted course of osteoporosis therapy.”

The VIBMOR trial at the Gold Coast campus.

Participants in theBrisbane-based MEDEX-OP trialshould be on osteoporosis medication and will receive a free supervised exercise program and a free bone, muscle and fat assessment.

Participants in theGold Coast-based VIBMOR trialcan be on or off medications and will receive either a free home-based or supervised exercise program and may also be allocated awhole bodyvibration (WBV) device to use in their home.

Participants will also receive a series of free bone, muscle and fat scans. All study participants will receive a full interpretation of their results.

Participants of both trials need to be healthy postmenopausal women with low bone mass (this can be tested by the team).