Fall Prevention

Elderly woman fallen in park. Two grandaughter help her to her feet.Med1Care Therapy Partner’s physical therapists specialize in fall prevention. Did you know . . . the most serious risk factor for a future fall is a previous fall. Routine activities, such as getting out of bed, going the bathroom, and getting in and out of the shower or bathtub can be far riskier than we think.

  • Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for people over age 45
  • Falls are the leading cause of accident-related adult hospitalization
  • Falling is the leading event that precipitates a move to a nursing home

As many as 40% of people over the age of 65 experience a fall every year. Falls cause serious injuries, such as fractured hips and concussions, that can lead to the loss of independence.Physical therapy is key to increasing mobility, strength and balance.

Causes of falls

A combination of factors contribute to fall-risk in older adults, including:

  • A previous fall (#1 risk)
  • Balance and/or gait problems
  • Foot strength and supportive footwear
  • Home hazards, including poor lighting and items that may cause tripping, such as floor rugs
  • Positional low blood pressure, as when blood pressure drops when you standup (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Sensory changes in the feet
  • Use of more than five medications concurrently
  • Vestibular problems
  • Vision changes

A study of 765 people between the ages of 64 and 97, conducted by Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, found falls are just as likely indoors as outdoors, but different risk factors are associated with each.

  • Risk Factors for Indoor Falls include being female, older, inactive, disabled, lower cognitive function, taking five or medications and poorer overall health
  • Risk Factors for Outdoor Falls include being male, younger, active, educated, and in above average health

Over the two-year study, almost 10% of falls resulted in serious injury, including 10.2% of indoor falls and 9% of outdoor falls. Hard concrete surfaces were the site of most outdoor falls, including sidewalks, streets, curbs, outdoor stairs and parking lots. Only 14% of outdoor falls occurred on soft surfaces, like yards and gardens.

How We Can Help

Med1Care Therapy Partner’s experienced therapists are trained in fall prevention, potential safety hazards and fall risks. We will assess the safety of your home and make recommendations for improvement when needed. Examples of such recommendations include the need for raised seats or arms for toilets, grab bars in showers or the removal of rugs.

A licensed physical therapist will come to your home in Toledo, Findlay or any of the 26 counties we service. The therapist will evaluate your need for services, draft a plan and set a schedule that is dedicated to helping you reach your objectives.

Call us at 419.866.0555 to schedule a consultation. Our specialists will help you chart a course forward.

Fall prevention programs are good at eliminating home hazards and lowering the risk of indoor falls with balance and gait training, strength training and assistive devices. We also tend to pay close attention to treating medical conditions, reducing the use of certain medications and improving vision.

However, Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPHsays we need more outdoor fall prevention. “More attention needs to be paid to the elimination of outdoor environmental hazards involving sidewalks, curbs and streets, such as repairing uneven surfaces, removing debris, installing ramps at intersections, and painting curbs.”

Scroll up the page to see the results of Hannan’s indoor/outdoorfall study with Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Falling is the second highest cause of accidental death, worldwide. Four life-altering injuries associated with falls include:

  • Fractures, particularly hip fractures that can result in permanent disability
  • Traumatic brain injury that can lead to dementia or permanently impair emotional stability and mental capability
  • Neck injuries, from strains (muscles) to sprains (ligaments), as well as a herniated discs, cervical spine fractures or spinal cord injuries
  • Back injuries that may cause vertebral compression fractures, nerve compression or spinal cord damage

Read more in Harvard’s Preventing Falls eBook here.

Progressive no-impact strength-building exercise is important to include in your regime two days a week.

Areas to focus on:

  • Core, including abs
  • Legs, including squats
  • Glutes
  • Back muscles

Read more about balance training here.