Standing Tall in the Spirit of Stability and Unity - 1st World Congress on Falls and Postural Stability

Professor Maw Pin TAN BMedSci BMBS MRCP MD CCT is an academic geriatrician at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Her interest is falls and syncope in older people. As the organising chairperson for the 1st World Congress on Falls and Postural Stability, which is currently accepting abstract, symposia, sponsorships and registrations, she hopes that falls prevention efforts will be available for older people globally. She tweets @mawptan

One in three individuals aged 65 years and over are reported to fall at least once a year. Falls in older adults may result in serious physical injuries, such as hip fractures and head injury. In addition, following a fall, the older person may develop a fear of falling which leads to activity avoidance, social isolation, depression and, possibly, a consequent downward spiral of deterioration. The resulting increased dependency leads to reduced quality of life and increasing social and healthcare expenditure.

Falls are not just a matter of poor balance. It is now widely accepted that falls in older adults occur because of a combination of risk factors which often work synergistically to amplify the risk of falls. The older person who has a visual impairment, for instance, is far more likely to fall if their living environment contains hazards that constantly shift position rather than if they live in their same neat and tidy environment where they know where everything is. The risk factors for falls are usually categorized into intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors, of which hundreds have now been described in the published literature. The commonest reported intrinsic risk factors for falls include dementia, gait and balance disorders, and hypotensive disorders. Extrinsic risk factors for falls include medications and the living environment.

Published evidence on effective treatment strategies have been available for decades now, and numerous initiatives and programmes are available in many countries, some of which are highly innovative and effective. What we now need is a global platform for people to share their success stories so that everyone can be encouraged to push forward efforts in their own areas.

The idea of an inaugural World Congress on Falls and Postural Stability was conceived at a rather informal meeting at the annual BGS International Conference on Falls and Postural Stability held at Birmingham in September 2017. A Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine representative mooted the idea of the British Geriatrics Society supporting an Asian falls meeting in Kuala Lumpur, but it was concluded at the end of the meeting that what we should really be holding is a World Congress!

There is now no going back! We are steaming ahead, all guns ablaze, towards the first World Congress on Falls and Postural Stability, which will be held from the 4th to 7th of December 2019 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre located at the base of the iconic Petronas Twin-Towers. Completed in 1997, these two 88-storey buildings still stand as the tallest twin towers in the world 22 years later. A perfect symbol of stability and unity - the very uplifting spirit which this Congress will signify.

In addition to being the much-needed platform for international agencies to share ideas and develop collaborations to reduce falls and improve postural stability among older persons worldwide, this Congress will acknowledge that falls prevention and postural stability cannot be tackled by healthcare professionals alone. As it is everybody’s responsibility, we simply have to bring everyone together. Our programme will now include plenary lectures by the top world experts in this area, including Jackie Close, Celia Gregson, Stephen Lord, Rose Anne Kenny, Tahir Masud, Paul Mitchell, Manuel Montero-Odasso, Dawn Skelton, Chris Todd, Natalie van der Velde and Jean Woo. There will be invited symposia hosted by gerontechnology experts, cardiac electrophysiologists, universal design specialists and the fragility network, as well as a biomedical engineering concurrent whole day programme shared with the third International Conference in Biomedical Engineering and Life Sciences.

The success of any Congress really depends on the participation of its delegates. There is still time to submit your oral or poster abstracts or join up with other interested individuals to submit symposia. We are also looking forward to a number of fringe programmes which will be emerging in the run up to the conference, including post-congress workshops on the Otago exercise programme, fear of falling and medications. Do keep looking at our website, join our Facebook page, and like our Twitter page @fallscongress #wcfps2019 for regular updates. Do contact us via secretariat [at] wcfps [dot] org if you are interested in any of the above.

The British Geriatrics Society and Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine warmly invite you to join us for this delicious event from Wednesday 4th December 2019 to Saturday 7th December 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, not just to sample the irresistible local cuisine, but to feast on the largest buffet spread of falls and postural stability delights beyond your wildest dreams! Abstract and Symposia deadline has now been extended to 15th June 2019.


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