According to the CDC; “Treating fall injuries is very costly. In 2015, costs for falls to Medicare alone totaled over $31 billion. Because, the U.S. population is aging, both the number of falls and the costs to treat fall injuries are likely to rise.
• Each year, millions of people 65 and older are treated in emergency departments because of falls.
• Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a broken hip or head injury.
• Fall injuries are among the 20 most expensive medical conditions.
• The average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $34,000.
• The costs of treating fall injuries goes up with age.”
“Falls can diminish your ability to lead an active and independent life. About one-third of people over the age of 65 and almost half of people over the age of 80 will fall at least once this year. There usually are several reasons for a fall. Physical therapists can help you reduce your risk of falling by:
• Assessing your risk of Falling
• Helping you make your home as safe as possible
• Educating you about the medical risk factors linked to falls
• Designing individualized exercises and balance training Working with other health care professionals and community services to create programs for people who want to reduce their risk of falling”
The above paragraph is taken from a “Physical Therapist’s Guide to Falls Prevention”, from the APTA. In my experience as a PT, I’ve found that ‘Balance & fall prevention’, is a very common issue that has been more prevalent in my PT practice: It seems that I’ve seen more over the past few years. I also, have personal experience with this as my father at 93 while walking with a 4 wheeled walker, lost his balance, fell and fractured his L hip. He underwent a surgical hip repair that took a lot out of him & he wasn’t ever quite the same after that.
There are Many & Multiple reasons why Falls are ‘seemingly’ increasing.
• L/E or Leg muscle weakness
• Diminished sensory feedback from feet/ankles/knees/hips from reduction in nerve endings as we age & Possible Total Joint replacements.
• Diminished balance from Vertigo, Vestibular Neuritis, etc.
• Visual issues, stroke, Diabetes, & other related medical reasons
• Medications, Low Blood pressure
• Home Hazards
With all that information listed above, it appears that we are all or nearly all eventually going to fall. But you can do something about it to limit the chance of your falling. In the above bullet points, you can see there are factors that lead to falls & therefore solutions to some of these.
One of the solutions is removing any Home Hazards, such as Throw rugs, uneven surfaces of Carpet to Linoleum, and another is to strengthen your Lower Extremities/Legs & core areas.
Performing safe exercises at home can help strengthen your lower body to reduce your overall fall risk. Always check with your health care provider before beginning any home-exercise program.
For all of the following exercises, position yourself near a countertop or sturdy surface that you can hold on to for support.
6 Great Falls Prevention Exercises:
1. Standing March
Stand in place and start marching in place slowly for 20-30 seconds. As this becomes easier, challenge your balance and change up the surface you are marching on: from hardwood to carpet, foam pad, grass, etc.
2. Standing 3-Way Kicks
Standing on 1 leg (with a soft knee, not locked in full extension), move the other leg in front of you (keeping your leg as straight as possible), then out to the side, and then behind your body keeping your toe pointed fwd for ea one. Perform 10 times on each side.
Walking alongside (facing) a countertop or near a wall (with hands on a surface as needed), step sideways in 1 direction with your toes pointed straight ahead. Move 10 steps in 1 direction, then return in the other direction. As this becomes easier, use a resistance band just above the ankles.
4. 1-Leg Stand
Stand on 1 leg as long as you are able, up to 30 seconds. Alternate legs, and try to do this 3-5 times on each leg. As this becomes easier, challenge yourself by doing other tasks while standing on 1 leg, such as brushing your teeth, talking on the phone, or while doing biceps curls.
5. Sit to Stand
Rise out of a chair without using your arms to push up. If this is difficult at first, use a firm pad underneath you (to place on chair seat) to raise you as you need. Perform 10 times.
6. Tandem standing or tandem walking
Place 1 foot directly in front of the other, so the heel of the front foot touches the toe of the back foot. Maintain standing in this position as long as you are able, or up to 30 seconds. As this becomes easier, try taking a few steps in this heel-to-toe format, as if you are walking on a tight rope. Remember to use something to hold on to for safety.
(The Above Exercises were taken from the APTA Website “MoveForwardPT”)
Please, if you have had falls or loss of balance in the past year, call your Physician & see if you can come into PT to work on strengthening, balance & gait activities. Or better yet call us for a free Phone consult to see if we can provide you with direction in selecting the appropriate health provider. Some Insurances may allow you to see us first to minimize or avoid an extra office visit.
– Dean Erie, PT
Balance – The Key to a Healthy Life