Falling is a real concern
Falling in older adults, those 65 years and older, can be a major concern. Statistics show that one out of three older adults fall every year, and that once one falls, their chances of falling again doubles. The direct medical cost for fall related injuries reaches up to $34 billion annually. It has been shown that 95% of hip fractures that occur are caused by falling.
Falling is close to home
I have had family members close to me fall, resulting in serious injuries. One in every five falls causes a serious injury such as a hip fracture or head injury. Both hip fractures and head injuries have occurred in family members of mine resulting in difficult recoveries due to the nature of their injuries. Falling can occur because of tripping and stumbling due to loss of leg strength, dizziness, and swaying. Falls also occur when one tries to perform high level activities that were once easy to perform and are now a little bit more risky.
What can happen after a fall
Many people who have fallen can become afraid of falling again, even if the original fall did not produce an injury. A fear of falling can cause a person to live a more sedentary lifestyle as they are afraid of performing activities that could cause them to fall again. This can become an ugly cycle as cutting down on everyday activities due to a fear of falling can actually increase the chances of falling. The more inactive a person is, the weaker they become, which greatly effects their balance.
Physical Therapy can help!
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) gives us a great list on their website (www.apta.org) of reasons why physical therapy can help with decreasing the risk of falling. Physical Therapy can help a person with:
• Reduce fall risks
• Reduce the fear of falling
• Improve mobility
• Improve balance
• Improve strength
• Improve movement
• Improve flexibility and posture
• Increase activity levels
Working on improving balance and reducing fall risks has been a very rewarding part of being a physical therapist. In the clinic we focus on exercises including aerobic endurance, leg strength, balance, and flexibility. As our patients have improved their strength and balance with physical therapy, their confidence increases significantly, thus reducing their fear to fall. I have worked with patients of all levels of fall risk. It is important to take the patient’s current activity levels and physical condition into mind when making them a a physical therapy plan. This will allow us to know how much or how little we can push them with their exercises.
Falls can be prevented!
It is important to see your physician or physical therapist if you have fallen recently, have a fear of falling, or feel that you are losing your balance more often. Studies show that exercises, such as those performed in physical therapy, can reduce the risk for falling. The important aspect in physical therapy is that we transition the exercises performed in the clinic into a home exercise program. Performing the exercises at home will continue to decrease your risk of falling, even after you have completed your physical therapy program.
Justin Longhurst, DPT
Utah Physical Therapy – West Haven
The above information above related to research and statistical evidence were found on: