Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Falls account for 95% of hip fractures, usually by falling sideways. Falls are also the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).
As the number of older adults with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis increases, there is a trend towards increased deaths related to falls. These deaths do not occur directly as a result of the fall itself. They happen because of the surgeries, complications and prolonged time with decreased mobility following the fall and injury (like time spent in bed). Half of the people over age 65 who have experienced a fall, will fall again, often pulling them into the cycle of deteriorating strength and balance which predisposes them to fall again. Every single fall has the potential to take away independence. Infact, often following an injury, seniors will have to give up independent living because they are left with lasting mobility deficits and need regular help.
As we age, balance tends to get poorer. Several other factors like deteriorating vision, medications and poorer sense of body in space (example peripheral neuropathy affecting the feel of the ground), chronic back/joint pains, ineffective glasses and simply the lack of knowledge regarding proper use of walkers, canes, appropriate shoes contribute to increased risk.
Good news is, a physical therapy program that works on improving balance and strength prevents falls at any age. Research shows that 50 hours of targeted balance training over 3-6 month period will decrease falls risk. In fact, studies have shown that seniors who participated in falls prevention training had decreased hospitalizations related to falls compared to other at-risk seniors.
I am a certified Falls Prevention Specialist with 10 years’ experience working with the older population. With a detailed assessment of deficits that increase falls risk, I develop a specific and intensive training program to improve strength, balance and visual tracking. An effective PT program can prevent a senior from spiraling into the cycle of falls and progressively restricted lifestyle. A Falls Prevention Program also needs coordination of care with the primary care physicians and the other specialists involved in management of medical conditions. I advocate for you for the best possible results.
Take this questionnaire to determine if you or a parent, older loved one are at risk for falls: