Why do we care about falls? What’s the big deal?
Falls can result in various injuries – fractures (hip, shoulder, ankle, thigh, wrist, rib, etc), subdural hematoma (bleed in your brain or brain injury), bruises, sprains, scrapes and cuts. Your risk for falling depends on several factors; some are physical, some are environmental, and some are behavioral. You may have muscular weakness, which will make it difficult to walk, stand up from sitting, or climb stairs. Your home may have hidden dangers, like area rugs and poor lighting, which can put you at risk. Certain behaviors, such as carrying heavy objects or standing up too quickly, may also make you vulnerable to falls. No matter the cause, falls and injuries from falls can diminish your ability to live an active and independent life.
The Big Deal – The Statistics are Startling!
* 1/3 of Americans over 65 fall each year; 1/2 of Americans over 85 will fall.
* 40% of nursing home admissions are related to falls
* More than 90% of hip fractures among adults over age 65 are caused by falls
* Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
How can a physical therapist help?
If you are worried about falling, a physical therapist can conduct a "screening" to determine whether you are at risk of suffering a fall. During your fall prevention screening, your Physical Therapist will review and assess:
* Medical history
* Home safety
* Heart rate and blood pressure
* Leg strength (using simple tests such as timing how long it takes you to rise from a chair)
* Walking speed and steadiness
If the screening shows that you are at risk, the therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and create a program to decrease your fall risk. Programs are completely individualized, but will likely focus on your balance and strength. Your personalized program may also include stretching, walking, movement, doing more than one thing at a time (safely), aerobic training, and fear management. All programs include an educational component. Recent studies and research support the concept that exercise-based programs are very effective in preventing falls.
If you or your loved ones may be at risk for falling, see one of the experts at Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy. The statistics prove that staying on your feet will keep you active and independent as you age!
This article is provided by Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy. To learn more about ACPT, check out thier website at www.aandc.com. Allegheny Chesapeake is also a member of a professional networking organization called the Pittsburgh Fitness Council. To explore thier website and learn more about their members, go to http://www.pghfitcouncil.com.