Falls appear to be accepted as a normal part of life as we age; however it doesn’t need to be. A fall is thought to be a random event, but in fact it can be predicted and prevented when certain measures are put in place.
Did you know?
Over one third of community dwelling people over the age of 65 years report falling at least once per year?. These numbers increase in aged care and hospital facilities, and risk increases further again with age. Although some falls may only result in minor injuries, some have significantly higher consequences such as:
Hip fracture (femur) and other long bones fractures
Lacerations – cuts
in the worst case scenario, death!
You can see why balance is something that needs to be addressed before it becomes a problem!
There are risk factors we can identify to help predict whether a fall is likely…
Decreased lower body strength
Poor gait pattern
Decrease reaction time
All but one of these measures can be improved with the use of exercise. So far, studies indicate that carefully planned exercise programs produce the best results. However there should still be some effect from generally being more active. For the exercise to be effective, it has to challenge your balance and progressed as you improve your balance measures.
There are some chronic diseases that lead to increased falls risk, such as:
Stroke or heart conditions.
In addition to these, any condition that alters how you would see or feel your surroundings. Injury to the nerves such neuropathy or spinal cord injuries can impact on your ability to feel and balance when walking or standing.
Guidelines suggest that MOST people are able to start a moderate intensity exercise program without medical screening and a clearance. Balance exercises would usually fall in the low to moderate intensity category. People with the following conditions should seek clearance from doctor; KNOWN cardiac (eg. Heart attack or stroke history), pulmonary (eg. Emphysema) or metabolic disease (eg. Diabetes).
If you’ve noticed you have trouble keeping your balance, or perhaps someone you know is not as stable as they used to be, contact us today to take part in our falls prevention program. This is a full balance assessment and exercise prescription to help you improve your falls risk and increase your confidence whilst out and about. Call one of our friendly clinics on 07 3800 3417 to get started with our exercise physiologist and decrease your falls risk today!