HomeNewsDon’t Fall this Fall

Don’t Fall this Fall

-by Nick Adams, PT, Orange City Area Physical & Occupational Therapy
Do you or someone you know struggle with balance? Have you or a loved one suffered from a fall recently? According to the National Council on Aging and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 Americans aged 65 and older falls each year, and every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Not every fall causes an injury, but injuries and deaths from falls have continued to rise. Along with potential physical harm from a fall, it is very common for someone who has fallen to become depressed, anxious, and isolated. Falls and poor balance can instill a fear of movement, which can lead to being afraid to go out in public, run to the grocery store, attend church, and many perform many other activities. The good news is that by having an understanding of falls and preventative measures, working on living a healthy lifestyle, and challenging your balance system to improve, you can help manage your fall risk. Hospitals throughout the nation are working to promote fall risk awareness and implementing balance and fall prevention programs. From medication management and blood pressure screens to body movement and balance screens, preventing falls has become a major goal for healthcare providers. In physical therapy specifically, we can work on improving your strength and proprioception, as well as help with issues with your vestibular system which may be affecting your balance. Our bodies work to keep our balance when three systems work together to give feedback to your brain. The first is your vision.  When you have your eyes open, your visual system is working to tell your brain how your body is positioned. This is why it’s much harder to balance with your eyes closed, or in a poorly lit room. The second system working is your vestibular system. This is a sensory system located in your inner ears that provide your brain with information about your head position and head motion. The third is your proprioception, which is your body’s ability to sense movement and body position. When you are standing, there are many receptors throughout your body, particularly in your feet and ankles which are constantly working to keep you upright. These three systems are continually taking in information to the brain, and your body makes corrections from all of this information to keep you upright. September 22, 2018 is Iowa Falls Prevention Awareness Day, and our hope is that we can continue to improve awareness on fall risk and balance. If you have more questions about balance and fall prevention, or if you know someone who may benefit from a balance and fall screen, feel free to reach out to your doctor or physical therapist. Many falls can be prevented, and by making several changes in your daily life, you can lower your chances of falling.