By: Dr. Sasha Cyrelson, Clinical Director, PT, DPT, OCS, MCMT
As you get older, physical changes, health conditions or even the medications that you take can increase your risk of falling. And did you know that more women than men will experience a slip-and-fall accident.
What is a fall?
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.
Falls are a threat to the health, and life, of older adults and can reduce their ability to remain independent. However, falls don’t have to be inevitable as you age. You can reduce your chance of falling or help a loved one prevent falls. There are proven ways to reduce and prevent falls, even for older adults (65 years and older).
What causes a fall?
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. Do you have any of the following?
- Lower body weakness
- Have difficulties with walking and balance (use a cane or walker?)
- Take many different medications
- Have vision problems
- Have knee or foot pain
- Are 65+
- Have a fear of falling
You may be at increased risk for falls!
How can Physical Therapy help?
Professional Physical Therapy can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above. We will determine what specific treatment program is appropriate to help you address and prevent falls.
Here’s what to expect at your appointment(s) with one of our Certified Fall Prevention Specialists.
- A thorough evaluation of your strength, flexibility, balance
- Discussion regarding nutrition
- Assessment of environmental risk factors
- Assessment of gait assistive device
- Vestibular assessment
- Posture assessment
- Gait assessment
- Advice regarding appropriate therapeutic exercises based on findings
- Shoe/orthotic assessment
Fall Prevention Tips
If you are at risk, consider these fall prevention tips:
- Exercise. After a physical therapist assess your balance and risk for falls, they can help you develop a customized exercise routine.
- Medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications to see if any of them increase your risk for falls.
- Vision. Ask a doctor to check your vision every year. If you wear glasses, keep them clean.
- Changes at home. Make small changes around your home to decrease tripping and fall hazards:
- Get rid of clutter and trip hazards from floors
- Repair loose floorboards
- Secure rugs to the floor or remove them
- Keep areas where you walk well lit, especially at night. Add night lights to your bathroom and bedroom
- Install grab bars in your bathroom and shower
- Consider using a tub bench so that you can sit down while you shower
- Hold onto railings when you go up and down stairs
- Place non-slip mats in bathroom
- Assistive devices. Use an assistive device if you need it. Canes and walkers can allow you to better access the community safely and confidently.
Get in Touch
People of all ages and all levels of activity can benefit from a risk assessment. Talk to one of our licensed therapists to determine your risk and help you live a safe and healthy life. Imagine living without fear of an accidental fall. If you want to consult with one of our skilled physical therapists, visit Professional Physical Therapy.
Professional Physical Therapy is the leading provider of world-class physical, occupational, and hand therapy in the Northeast. We will work closely with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.