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Three Ways to Prevent Falls This Month

By Beth Jennings, PT, MPT

During the first week of fall, FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers nationwide bring awareness to fall prevention through the Fight the Fall campaign. This includes your local office in Forest Grove.  

Falling and poor balance are not inevitable results of aging. We want the older adults in our community to live long, independent lives. The statistics can sound scary, but know that prevention works. 

The CDC reports:

  • More than 800,000 patients per year are hospitalized because of an injury due to a fall.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are due to a fall, often from falling sideways.
  • Traumatic brain injuries are most often caused by falls.
  • Fear of falling itself can lead to falls.

 1. Learn Your Risk

Schedule an appointment or stop by our office for a FREE fall risk screen on Sept. 19-23. 

The screens involve answering questions and performing a few brief activities with one of our physical therapists. You will leave with information regarding your risk of falling. There is no obligation beyond this visit. 

Free Fall Risk Screen 

When: Sept. 19-23

Where: FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Center, 3838 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove, OR 97116

How: Call for an appointment at (503) 357-1706 or drop in during business hours.

 2. Create a Safe Home 

Last month’s blog post listed 32 ways to reduce falls in the home, like clearing clutter from the stairs and keeping areas well-lit. It’s worth a second look at the checklist provided in that post. 

What changes have you made to improve your home’s safety?

 3. Build Your Body

Leg strength plays a crucial role in your balance. 

A 2012 study showed that individualized exercise plans of strength and balance exercises reduced falls in older adults with mild balance impairment.

The primary muscles of your thighs – the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus -- help you get out of a chair, up from the floor, or climb stairs. 

The muscles of the outer hips, gluteus medius, help us maintain side-to-side stability when walking or maneuvering in tight spaces.

The muscles in the front of your hip (hip flexors) and the lower leg work to pick up your feet to step over items or to keep you from catching your toes on the floor when you walk.

Leg strength also plays a key role in walking on uneven surfaces such as grass, gravel, and snow. 

Flexibility is vital for your balance, too. 

Whether talking about the elasticity of your muscles or the mobility of individual joints, your body’s flexibility allows you to maintain your best posture and adjust to balance challenges.

Key muscles and joints where flexibility helps with balance:

       -Calf muscles (gastrocnemeus and soleus)

       -Hip flexors (iliopsoas)

       -Chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor)

       -Hamstrings

       -Spine

Keeping strong and flexible as you age is critical to maintaining a lower fall risk. If you want to work with one of our physical therapists on an individualized program to address your balance needs, give us a call today. 

We would love to work with you on staying on your feet!

Are you intrigued by this topic and want to read more? Here are a few suggestions:

Using Science to Improve Your Balance

The Human Balance System

Home Safety Modifications




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:

Xiao Jing Yang, Keith Hill, Kirsten Moore, Susan Williams, Leslie Dowson, Karen Borschmann, Julie Anne Simpson, Shyamali C. Dharmage, Effectiveness of a Targeted Exercise Intervention in Reversing Older People's Mild Balance Dysfunction: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Physical Therapy, Volume 92, Issue 1, 1 January 2012, Pages 24–37, https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20100289

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 August 6. Facts About Falls. Retrieved September 8, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html

Verma SK, Willetts JL, Corns HL, Marucci-Wellman HR, Lombardi DA, Courtney TK (2016) Falls and Fall-Related Injuries among Community-Dwelling Adults in the United States. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150939.

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