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Lower Your Fall Risk Now

with FYZICAL’s 'Fight the Fall' Event

By Beth Jennings, PT, MPT

The fall season marks the arrival of football, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice meatloaf, or whatever the latest craze might be. 

At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Center, fall marks our annual “Fight the Fall” campaign. No, we’re not organizing an uprising against the change in seasons, but rallying your interest in preventing the kind of fall that causes injuries.

1 in 4 older adults fall

A 2014 survey of adults aged 65 and older showed that 28.7%, or more than 1 in 4 adults, reported falling in the previous year.

If we filled Portland’s Moda Center with older adults, that would mean 5,740 of the roughly 20,000 in the stadium reported falling in the previous year. That is a lot!

Sure, some falls don’t cause injury, but according to the CDC: 

  • every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for fall-related injuries
  • every 19 minutes an older adult dies due to injuries from a fall

What Increases Your Risk for Falling?

  • Visual problems or not being able to see well due to poor lighting, not wearing your prescribed glasses, or something blocking a necessary portion of your vision (carrying something large, umbrellas, long skirts or coats, etc.)
  • Home hazards such as clutter on the floor, throw rugs, wet floors, broken stairs, or narrow walkways through your home
  • Foot issues such as pain, weakness, tightness, or improper footwear
  • Medication use. Sedatives, antidepressants, and heart medications can sometimes affect your steadiness. 
  • Unsteadiness or a dizziness disorder. Of course! If you already know you have a balance problem or difficulty walking, then you know you are more at risk.
  • Leg weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency

How We Stay Balanced

Our body detects whether we are steady, using three sensors:

  • Vision, through seeing the orientation of trees, walls and the horizontal ground.
  • Vestibular system, the orientation sensor in our inner ear
  • Proprioceptors, or “touch and position sensors” in our joints and muscles

Our brain uses this information, and when needed, produces a response using our strength, flexibility, and reflexes.

A physical therapist can assess for deficits and address them through an individualized program. Some factors may not change, and your therapist can advise you on ways to adapt to keep you safe.

What Can You Do Now?

Just like brushing your teeth reduces your risk of cavities, fall prevention tactics can reduce your risk of falls. Here’s what you can do.

Plan to talk with your doctor about your balance. Ask them to review your medication list, particularly if side effects include sleepiness or dizziness. Don’t forget the over-the-counter medications, too. Ask for a referral to physical therapy.

Make the most of your vision. Maintain regular vision check-ups and keep your glasses up-to-date. Consider a single focal lens (distance or reading distance lens only) if your progressive or bifocal lenses make you feel unsteady.

Improve the safety in your home. Removing clutter, adding extra lighting, and having grab bars installed is a good start. See this checklist in English and Spanish for more. 

Improve your balance and strength. This is what we do best at FYZICAL, and we’re here to help. Call us for a free balance screening or a full balance evaluation today. 

Free Balance Screening at FYZICAL – Forest Grove

WHO: Anyone regardless of age.

WHAT: Free one-on-one balance screening performed by our FYZICAL physical therapists. Screening involves a series of questions and activities so that we can assess your balance risk.

WHEN: Call our office (503-357-1706) to schedule a 15-minute time spot anytime during September. Make the most of National Falls Prevention Awareness Week by scheduling it between September 20-24.

WHERE: FYZICAL-Forest Grove, 3838 Pacific Avenue South, Forest Grove, OR 97116

WHY: Because the majority of falls are preventable and injuries are no fun. There’s no pressure to start a course of physical therapy, but we are here to help you if that’s the case. 

A word on our COVID-19 precautions: 

Your safety is important to us. All visitors and staff are asked to stay home if they have a fever or are experiencing any symptoms of a respiratory infection. Everyone is asked to wear a mask in the building.

Beth Jennings, PT, MPT is a freelance writer and a physical therapist.

Disclaimer This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

References:

Bergen G, Stevens MR, Burns ER. Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:993–998.

Alexander BH, Rivara FP, Wolf ME. The cost and frequency of hospitalization for fall–related injuries in older adults. American Journal of Public Health 1992;82(7):1020–3.

https://www.cdc.gov/falls/index.html


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