Dr Marc Sim

Prestigious Fellowship to help prevent falls in older Australians

The Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute’s Dr Marc Sim was one of just four WA academics to be awarded the honour.

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Prestigious Fellowship to help prevent falls in older Australians

An Edith Cowan University researcher has won almost $400,000 in State Government funding to help prevent falls in older Australians.

Dr Marc Sim from ECU’s Nutrition & Health Innovation Research Institute was one of just four academics in the state awarded an Emerging Leaders Fellowship.

The Future Health Research and Innovation Fund finances the program, which provides a secure source of funding to drive health and medical research, innovation and commercialisation.

One in three Australians aged over 65 will experience a fall each year and one in 10 days spent in hospital by this age group is due to falls.

In Australia, it’s estimated to cost $3.9 billion per year.

To do address this, Dr Sim’s work is taking a multifaceted approach.

Objectives include identifying biomarkers of suboptimal musculoskeletal health, to determine whether people are at high risk of injury in a fall.

He will also investigate diet and lifestyle factors on musculoskeletal health, plus develop new tools and guidelines to promote musculoskeletal health and prevent falls from happening.

Dr Sim said this would offer new insights.

“The causes of falls are multifactorial and are still poorly understood,” he said.

“Besides exercise, few evidenced-based interventions exist to prevent falls.”

Dr Sim’s research program has already revealed the role of diet in musculoskeletal health and falls risk, and shown the benefit of consuming cruciferous and green leafy vegetables in regards to muscle function and bone metabolism — factors vital to preventing falls and fractures.

“I now aim to uncover and evaluate additional risk factors associated with diet, exercise and body composition that can be incorporated into falls assessment screening to identify high risk individuals,” he said.

“For example, investigating structural biomarkers such as muscle and fat mass/distribution, anatomical structures and joint angles influenced by diet and exercise may identify unique characteristics prevalent in fallers.

“Collectively, this research program will help me to identify, design and evaluate innovative interventions that lead to best practice nutritional and physical activity guidelines designed to reduce falls, their associated injuries and hospital admissions.”

Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson said the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund aimed to provide local researchers with a stable, self-sustaining career pathway.

“Support for health and medical research will ultimately contribute to finding new ways to keep people healthy and cure disease, benefiting the entire Western Australian community,” he said.

Credit: ECU Newsroom

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