Falls as we get older are a major concern as up to one-third of those over the age of 65 experience a fall each year. Of those hospitalized due to a fall, almost half lose their independence and enter a nursing home. These are USA figures taken from an article published in 2007. (Link: http://www.chiroaccess.com/Articles/Fall-Prevention-How-Can-Chiropractors-Be-Involved.aspx?id=0000029).
Fall prevention intervention guidelines have been implemented across scientific, health provider and community organizations to reduce the chances of injury, loss of independence and possible early death as we age.
I’m well into my third decade of chiropractic practice so I’ve been around awhile. I’m noticing my patient base is aging gracefully with me which makes this topic very relevant.
First of all, how is chiropractic care going to help prevent a fall? It improves gait and balance in a number of ways. One, it can reduce muscle and joint pain so we can move with symmetry and confidence. It may also help with certain types of vertigo. More recent studies show that improved joint function improves joint proprioception. This is where your brain perceives the position of a joint in space. In other words we are more ‘sure footed’ with good joint proprioception and less likely to fall over. This is a good reason for a regular or periodic chiropractic check-up and adjustment. http://www.chiro.org/research/FULL/Exploring_the_Neuromodulatory_Effects.pdf
Other things I like to consider in helping a patient prevent falls are: have they had any slips or falls?, have they had any dizzyness?, are they on any medications and if so have they had them reviewed by their medical practitioner recently?, how is their blood pressure?, have they had there eyes tested recently?
Regular exercise is important in maintaining good health, strength and balance and I like to start with a manageable routine that doesn’t seem like work. For many I recommend walking. Others I recommend getting into a pool. If you love gardening, there are ways to do it without busting a gut and getting some exercise at the same time! I try to find out something the patient enjoys that requires their body to move because if they don’t enjoy it they won’t keep doing it.
Go to this government website link for more exercise guidelines: http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/physical-activity-guidelines-for-older-adults
Last, is check at home for trip hazards. Just like a workplace, it may not seem like a problem until you trip on it.
Go to this government website link for more details on check for home hazards: http://www.myagedcare.gov.au/healthy-and-active-ageing/preventing-falls-in-elderly
Dr Patrick Maher
Chiropractor – Brisbane City