Reduction in Fall Risk and Medical Cost with Foot Care in the Elderly

Kazuhiko Yamashita, Emi Anzai, Tomoko Yamashita, Yuji Ohta, Mitsuru Sato, Shuichi Ino, Kenji Yamada, Yuko Ohno
Vol. 6 (2017) p. 83-87

Objectives: Foot problems are common in the elderly and are associated with impaired lower limb muscle strength, reduced balance function, and foot pain. We investigated the effect of foot care on these parameters as well as on medical costs in 32 community-dwelling elderlies (mean age 75.3 ± 6.1 years). They were divided into two groups based on pre-intervention fall risk assessed by lower limb muscle strength. In this study, we examined the impact of foot care intervention on medical costs by conducting an analysis on the medical costs of the subjects who had been compensated by the National Health Insurance or by the medical care system for those aged over 75 years. Measurements: Lower limb muscle strength was evaluated by measuring toe-gap force and knee-gap force. Balance capability was evaluated by the trajectory of the length and area of center of pressure (COP) and pressure ratio of toe contact with the ground. Medical costs were compared before and after intervention. Results: Significant increases in toe-gap force and knee-gap force were observed after foot care intervention. Post-intervention toe-gap force and knee-gap force were significantly lower in the foot pain group than in the foot pain-free group. The toe-gap force and knee-gap force in both groups improved significantly after foot care intervention. The subjects who had pain in their feet were significantly more likely to belong to the higher fall risk group. There was a reduction in medical costs for the group of the over-75 group. Conclusion: In community-dwelling elderly, foot care improves lower limb muscle strength and balance, which are associated with falls, and reduces medical costs.