Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal hospital admissions in the older adult. As we age, our balance and strength decline. It is an unfortunate side effect of living a longer life. A fall, whether injured or not, comes with a detriment to one's quality of life. The fear of falling becomes exacerbated. We start to limit our physical activity and community participation. Social isolation, unfortunately, may follow as a result.
Balance is multifactorial
Our ability to maintain our balance is multifactorial, with each variable equally important to maintaining our state of equilibrium. There are many systems in our body that contribute to this; our eyes and inner ear provide information to our brain to help us stay upright. Receptors in our joints, muscles, tendons, and feet send signals to our brain to also help. Having deficits in any of these systems may increase our risk for falls which may include: dizziness, poor vision, having tight or weak muscles in our lower extremity, a history of injury or surgery, or even having other health issues such diabetes.
What can PT do?
Fall prevention is best accomplished with a team approach: talking with your doctor to review medications for detrimental interactions or to see if changes can be made to reduce the deleterious side effects: talking with family and going through one's home to insure it is safe and easy to maneuver throughout and make changes if needed; undergoing a balance assessment at Fyzical to determine your fall risk and interventions/exercises that can be done to help reduce fall risk.
Did You Know?
- 1/3 of the population over 65 falls each year
- In patients over 75, imbalance is the #1 reason for a doctor visit
- Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions
- Falls are the #1 cause of fractures
- Falls account for 40% of all nursing home admissions
- At least half of the overall United States population is affected by a balance or vestibular disorder sometime during their lives.
- Approximately 15 out of every 1000 individuals consult their family physician each year with complaints of vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance; half the individuals over the age of 65 will develop positional vertigo.
- Of all falls suffered by the elderly, 50% are reported to be the result of vestibular problems.
- In approximately 15% of vestibular patients, the cause cannot be recognized.
- Vestibular dysfunction is a prominent part of balance disorders, particularly in the elderly, and is a significant source of morbidity.
- It has been estimated that 65% of individuals older than 60 years of age experience dizziness or loss of balance, often on a daily basis.
- Dizziness is a common symptom affecting about 30% of people over the age of 65.
- Approximately 12.5 million Americans over the age of 65 have a dizziness or balance problem that significantly interferes with their lives.
- In the US, the estimated cost of medical care for patients with balance disorders exceeds $1 billion annually.
- Dizziness can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in elderly persons, in whom it often represents dysfunction in more than one body system.
- Many cases of dizziness are actually neurological.