By: Dr. Aimee Alexander, PT, DPT, OCS
Have you or has someone you know had a fall that caused injury? Or perhaps a loved one seems to be at risk for falls?
If so, here’s the good news: Licensed physical therapists are the experts at identifying and helping to reduce the risks of falling in older adults by creating an individualized program for each person.
Did you know?
Falls are the number-one reason why older individuals lose their independence!
One-third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year – and less than half of these people tell anyone about it
Over 2 million older adults fall every year
Every 29 minutes, an older adult dies from injuries sustained in a fall
One out of five falls causes serious injury, such as a fracture or head trauma
Direct medical costs for injuries related to falls total over $28 billion annually
Risk factors for falls:
Most falls occur due to a combination of risk factors, and the risk of falling again increases with each fall. But these risks can be reduced! Fall risk factors are categorized as intrinsic (relating specifically to the individual) and extrinsic (environmental factors).
Intrinsic risk factors may include:
History of falls
Weakness in the lower body
Generalized muscle weakness
Postural blood pressure changes with position changes (postural hypotension)
Conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, incontinence (i.e., in a hurry to get to the bathroom), and dementia
Current fear of falling (a person’s fear of falling actually increases the risk of an actual fall)
Extrinsic risk factors may include:
Home environment, such as stairs, lack of grab bars in bathroom, throw rugs, pets, and dim lighting
Polypharmacy, meaning the more medications you take daily, the higher your risk of falling
Certain types of medications create more risk than others (psychoactive meds – a.k.a. benzodiazepines, “sedatives,” and sedating meds – Tylenol PM, Benadryl, and any medications having anticholinergic side effects, e.g., blurred vision)
Improper use of an assistive device or use of an improper device for level of weakness/function
What can you do to reduce your risk?
Sports PT is committed to reducing falls in the community, and each Sports PT location is serving its community with a Falls Risk Assessment that can be done anytime during our operational hours. For more information on our Falls Risk Assessment in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make STEADI part of your medical practice. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/injury/STEADI. Updated July 13, 2015.