Fall Prevention Awareness Begins With You
Written by Mary Martin, PT, DPT
Every year, millions of people fall. Per the latest CDC report, over 3 million people reported to the emergency room in just the span of one year due to injury from a fall. These are just the people reporting falls! Over half of patients do not report falls to their doctors. Falls are costly in more ways than one: We not only have the monetary cost, which is upwards of $50 BILLION dollars in cost for medical care per year, but also the financial impact on quality of living.
Many people who fall incur injury, such as a hip fracture or traumatic brain injury. Just as important, many people develop anxiety with falls and fear of falling. This will often cause people to stay home, stop doing hobbies and activities they love, and subsequently cause a spiral effect of weakness and instability.
So what can you do to help yourself and others?
There are usually a number of factors that contribute to falls, so it is important to be aware of these. For many older adults, it can be as simple as keeping up with your yearly eye doctor, primary doctor, and specialist appointments. At these appointments, your medications should be consolidated and managed, your physician care team can pick up on any vital changes to your health, and also answer any questions or concerns you may have. Some important questions to ask your doctors can include: Potential side effects of medications, nutritional concerns or tips, safe pain management, and possibly most importantly, “is there someone that can help me further?” This last question might stem from difficulty walking, vestibular problems, or even weakness.
Physical therapy can be helpful in many ways if you have experienced falls or imbalance of any kind. Our national organization (APTA) has defined falls and near falls this way:
“A fall is defined as any event that leads to an unplanned, unexpected contact with a supporting surface, such as the floor or a piece of furniture, that is not the result of a push or shove or the result of a medical event, such as a heart attack or fainting. A near-fall is a stumble or loss of balance that would result in a fall if you were unable to catch yourself.”
A physical therapist can be helpful to assess fall risk, help with home safety, design a personalized balance and/or strengthening plan, and assist with recommending appropriate referrals in the community for further medical appointments or community programs you can attend. Our clinicians at Advanced Rehabilitation Services are excited to help you with this! We have over 100 years of combined experience with patients, and many of us have extensive continuing education courses addressing this very issue.
Falls are NOT normal, so let us help you take steps to reduce your risk of injury!
For more information, contact our office today at (406)752-7250.