FALL PREVENTION AND BALANCE TRAINING
Sadly, more than half of all accidental deaths among the elderly are due to falls.
The National Council on Aging reports that 35 percent of all Americans 65 and older fall each year. In fact, falls are the major cause of injuries in older people. Falls are also expensive: In 2015, the total medical costs involving falls exceeded $50 billion, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What causes a greater risk of falling?
Conditions such as dizziness and disequilibrium are symptoms that seniors tend to experience more frequently than other age groups. As people age, they may develop long-term physical conditions that impact their gait and balance. These physical conditions can begin to affect lifestyle and make it more difficult to exercise as time progresses. Without exercise, muscles weaken, and joints begin to ache. Staying indoors also lessens exposure to sunshine, necessary for the body’s own production of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones. Environmental factors in and outside the home can also make a person’s risk for falls even greater.
Patients Commonly Treated for Fall Prevention
Older adults are the population most commonly treated for fall prevention and balance training. There are three major reasons why seniors are more likely to fall:
They may suffer from chronic health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and dementia.
They may have hypotension (low blood pressure), which causes dizziness.
They may have age-related conditions such as vision and hearing problems, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness in the legs.
And yet, age is not a predictor for falls. Conditions such as dizziness, vertigo, and other vestibular issues in nature can and do frequently affect a younger audience. No matter a person’s age, most falls can be prevented with the right exercise program and other therapies that can greatly improve your chances of staying on your feet. Here are some ways to stay safe and avoid injury:
Follow an exercise program designed to improve balance, strength, and flexibility.
Talk to your therapist about obtaining an assessment of your risk for falling.
Have your hearing and vision evaluated each year and update your eyewear accordingly.
Remove tripping hazards from your home, make sure your lighting is adequate, and install grab bars wherever needed.
Use walking aids like canes and walkers properly.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration leads to low blood pressure, which can cause confusion and loss of balance, which could bring on a fall.
You can always count on CORA’s balance training if falls or imbalance is turning your world upside down. Our licensed therapists are experts in treating most types of balance disorders. We tackle these conditions giving everyone, especially our seniors a safer, healthier quality of life.
Our Real Focus is Fall Prevention
Alpha & Omega Physical Therapy offers a wide variety of fall prevention services for seniors and our therapists treat most types of balance disorders. Our focus is on fall prevention, and our comprehensive treatment plan has the potential to prevent 30 to 40 percent of all falls. We employ tailored balance retraining and vestibular adaptation exercises, gait and safety training, and muscle strengthening to help some of the more than 90 million people in the U.S. who are at a risk for falling.
The truth is people of all ages and all activity levels benefit from a risk assessment. Talk to your primary care physician about getting referred to a CORA clinic to have a licensed therapist complete a balance and fall risk assessment to determine your risk and help you live a safe, healthy life. Imagine living without the fear of an accidental fall. Protecting life can be simple, painless and is covered by Medicare and most insurances.
Frequently asked questions:
DOES BALANCE NATURALLY DECLINE OVER TIME?
As we age, cells in the vestibular system die off. These cells are connected to centers in the brain that control our balance, which begin to decline. But the right exercises can dramatically improve balance, which is very important for aging patients.
HOW WILL YOU ASSESS MY RISK OF FALLING?
AOPT conducts a comprehensive evaluation to assess your risk of falling, followed by balance training to keep you on your feet. Our screening includes questions about your recent history of falling and whether any falls required medical attention. Our licensed therapists use nationally recognized, evidence-based assessment tools such as the Berg Balance Scale, TUG, and Tinetti tests and the Bio-Dex SD balance system to assess you risk for falling.
CAN MY MEDICATION INCREASE MY RISK OF FALLING?
As people age, medications take longer to break down and leave the body, and various drugs interact with each other in ways that may bring about falls. Some medications have side effects that can increase the risk of falling, and some — including tranquilizers, sedatives, sleeping pills, and antidepressants — can greatly increase the chances of falling. You should regularly review your medications with your physician or pharmacist and take medications only as they are prescribed.
ARE FALLS A NECESSARY PART OF GETTING OLDER?
No, falling is not an unavoidable part of aging. With lifestyle changes and comprehensive exercise programs focused on improving balance, the number of older Americans who fall each year can be greatly reduced.
IF I’VE ALREADY HAD AN ACCIDENT, CAN I STILL WORK ON PREVENTING ADDITIONAL FALLS?
Absolutely! AOPT can introduce you to an exercise program that will improve your walking speed, balance, strength, and flexibility to help you live the healthy and steady life that you deserve and ease your fear of falling again.
Fall Risk Screening can identify a potential problem in just two minutes. This quick and easy test could save a life.
Why you may need a Fall Risk Screening
For older adults, falls are one of the greatest causes of serious health problems. For patients over the age of 65, twenty-five percent with hip fractures die within six months, twenty-five percent lose significant function, and fifty percent experience a decrease in mobility. Modifying the factors that lead to falls will increase mobility and confidence, both critical to maintaining a more independent lifestyle. The Balance System SD will improve balance, increase agility, and develop muscle tone, with the broadest range of treatment options.
“The Biodex Balance SD has been a wonderful addition to our department. The computer allows us to systemically change the surface on which the patient stands, therefore adding dimension to balance work, while also providing visual feedback. The balance exercises are more fun and engaging for the patient and the therapist.” -Shawn Thiele, Physical Therapy Manager, Medical Associates Clinic
What are the major causes of falls?
The most common cause of falls include weak muscles, unstable balance, dizziness, vision problems, side effects from medications and environmental hazards.
How can I reduce my risk for falling?
Studies show that balance training, gait, strength and flexibility training not only improve mobility, but also help reduce the risk of falling.
What are the benefits of a fall risk screening?
The Biodex Balance System uses static and dynamic testing and training technology which can improve balance, strength and overall mobility allowing you to avoid falls.
Ask us about this program and set up an appointment for a Fall Risk Screening!