Falls are a growing problem. Oftentimes a fall causes functional impairments, increased pain, decreased activity, and reduced quality of life. Reports show that falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), accounting for more than 49% of TBIs among children, and 81% among adults aged over 64 years. Falls also contribute to about 31% of all spinal cord related injuries and are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults.
Considering that around 50% of older adults do not resume independent living after sustaining an injury in a fall, it is crucial to seek post-acute rehabilitation after a fall occurs. We never plan for falls to happen and even more so we cannot predict their severity. Therefore, at Neulife Rehabilitation we believe prevention is key, and today we will talk more about just that!
What is a fall?
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, a fall is an unexpected event in which the person comes to contact with the ground, floor or lower level. It is also important to clarify that a fall was not the result of someone’s purposeful action like a push, or of a medical event, such as a heart attack.
Risk factors for falls
The first step in successful prevention is to understand what makes you more likely to sustain a fall. Research shows that the cumulative effect of multiple interacting factors increases the risk of a fall. Therefore, our post-acute rehab specialists have compiled a list of fall risk factors for you to look out for.
- Orthostatic hypotension/positional low blood pressure – A blood pressure drop during transitional changes such as laying down to sitting up. This may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and imbalance.
- Weakness in your trunk, legs, and hands – Strength and coordination within our ankles, hips, and trunk allows counteraction to episodes of imbalance by shifting our center of mass, thus preventing falls. Also, decreased grip strength is related to falls.
- Decreased range of motion in your legs and trunk – Flexibility of the ankle joint, in particular, has demonstrated the strongest relationship with balance and is essential when challenged with external forces.
- Decreased walking speed – Community-dwelling older adults are 54% more likely to fall if their walking speed is below 70 cm/s.
- Vision and sensation impairments
- Trouble with memory and thinking
- Medications – Some medications can have side effects that affect your balance such as lightheadedness or impaired vision. These would make you more likely to sustain a fall. Therefore, speak to your pharmacist about your medication’s side effects, and fully understand why you are taking each drug, proper dosage and frequency.
If any of the above are relevant to you and you have not yet consulted a doctor about them, do so immediately!
Strategies to prevent falls
- Engage in regular physical activity
Multicomponent exercise plans including a combination of balance and strength training demonstrate the highest levels of success. You can try activities such as Tai Chi or Yoga!
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Remove home hazards!
- Remove obstacles you could trip over including boxes, cords, and clutter.
- Secure loose rugs with tape or slip-resistant backing.
- Store items such as clothes, dishes, and food within reach.
- Use nonslip mats in the bathtub or shower. Also, you can use a shower chair, or to sit while bathing.
- Focus on the task that you are currently engaged in.
- Don’t walk with your hands full.
- Use night lights in low dimmed areas and hallways.
- Be aware of uneven surfaces – or remove them.
- Proper nutrition and a healthy sleep schedule
These can reduce your risk of falls as you will feel more alert, energetic and focused.
- Assistive Devices
Correctly adjusted canes and walkers can significantly improve your confidence, stability, and conserve energy. Incorrectly adjusted ones actually increase the risk of falls. Speak to a physical therapist to determine which assistive device is best suited to your needs.
- Wear supportive footwear
Shoes with heel support, proper fit, and slip-resistant soles may reduce joint pain, thus improving your stability and posture.
- Management of fear
Those who have fallen become more nervous, and may even become sedentary. Post-acute rehab physicians will work with you to build your confidence with movement, and help you return to activities you enjoy.
- Physical therapy often plays a vital role in fall prevention
A physical therapist (PT) can conduct assessments to determine your level of fall risk and identify limitations. PTs can develop a personalized program that is comprehensive to improve strength, balance, endurance, speed, reactions/coordination, and confidence with movement while performing daily activities. If you would like to learn more about how a PT can help you improve your quality of life, do not hesitate to contact us.
Learn more about Post Acute Rehabilitation at NeuLife Rehab
NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the LARGEST residential post-acute rehabilitation facilities in the Southeast with specialized rehabilitation programs for a wide range of catastrophic injuries. We are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Brain Injury Specialty Programs and Residential Rehabilitation.
Our skilled clinical experts work with each patient individually to create a customized rehabilitation program best suited to the patient’s needs. Every day we work with the goal of providing our patients with the highest quality of care. We believe that healing, wellness, and personal fulfillment are best accomplished in a positive and uplifting therapeutic environment where staff encourage, assist, and support all of their patients. And that is what we do!
To learn more about our facility, our staff and our work contact us, or schedule a tour! You can call us at 800-626-3876, or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us at 2725 Robie Avenue, Mount Dora, Florida 32757.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.