Senior Fall Prevention ProgramAbsolute Physical Therapy has a long history of helping seniors regain function with therapeutic exercise to increase strength, endurance, and balance, and reduce the risk of falls. However, in 2013 they have taken several additional steps to make fall prevention program the best in the valley.
Chad has taken specific courses on vestibular rehabilitation and studied the text Vestibular Rehabilitation Third Edition by Susan J. Herdman, in addition to reviewing ongoing research and practical applications of fall prevention research.
Adding the vestibular rehabilitation component assists with the feeling of dizziness and vertigo that patients may experience as a contributing factor to fall risk. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is perhaps the most common cause of dizziness in which patients report symptoms which are triggered by turning the head, lying down, rolling over in bed, bending over and looking up. Fortunately, with expertise it is very easy to diagnose and treat, with symptoms often eliminated in 1-2 visits. If the BPPV patient has additional risk factors, such as weakness, recovery may take 4-8 weeks.
Notably, we have installed an overhead harness system to work with treadmills and other balance, strength, and stability drills, to allow patients to work more aggressively towards restoring functional balance without risk and fear of falling.
Steps to reduce the risk of falls are extremely important with Congress’ Elder Fall Prevention Act of 2003 finding:
- Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among people over 65.
- By 2030, the population of individuals who are 65 years of age or older will double. By 2050, the population of individuals who are 85 years of age or older will quadruple.
- In 2000, falls among elderly individuals accounted for 10,200 deaths and 1,600,000 emergency department visits.
- Sixty percent of fall-related deaths occur among persons 75 and older.
- Twenty-five percent of elderly persons who sustain a hip fracture die within 1 year.
- Hospital admissions for hip fractures among the elderly have increased from 231,000 admissions in 1988 to 332,000 in 1999. The number of hip fractures is expected to exceed 500,000 by 2040.
- Annually, more than 64,000 individuals who are over 65 years of age sustain a traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall.
- Annually, 40,000 individuals who are over 65 years of age visit emergency departments with traumatic brain injuries suffered as a result of a fall, of which 16,000 of these individuals are hospitalized and 4,000 of these individuals die.
- The rate of fall-induced traumatic brain injuries for individuals who are 80 years of age or older increased by 60 percent from 1989 to 1998.
- The estimated total cost for non-fatal traumatic brain injury-related hospitalizations for falls in individuals who are 65 years of age or older is more than $3,250,000,000. Two-thirds of these costs occurred among individual who were 75 years of age or older.
- The costs to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and society as a whole from falls by elderly persons continue to climb much faster than inflation and population growth. Direct costs alone will exceed $32,000,000,000 in 2020.
“Exercise is the only intervention that by itself reduces the risk of falls among older adults.”
“Falls are preventable. The opportunity to help reduce falls among older adults has never been better.”
“Falls are not an inevitable consequence of aging, but falls do occur more often among older adults because fall risk factors increase with age and are usually associated with health and aging conditions.
These risk factors include:
- Biological risk factors. Mobility problems due to muscle weakness or balance problems, chronic health conditions such as arthritis and stroke, Vision changes and vision loss, loss of sensation in feet.
- Behavioral risk factors Inactivity, Medication side effects, and/or interactions, alcohol use.
- Environmental risk factors Home and environmental hazards (clutter, poor lighting, etc.), incorrect size, type, or use of assistive devices (walkers, canes, crutches, etc.), poorly designed public spaces.”
Our emphasis on fitness and function is visible with a glance at our clinic, which looks more like a gym than a typical physical therapy office, filled with exercise machines instead of massage tables. This gives our patients the option of continuing the most effective exercise program at their local fitness center rather than just making do with a piece of theraband.
When goals are met and fall risk is sufficiently reduced, the patient is discharged with either an individualized fitness center program or home exercise program so that they can continue to maintain and even further increase their strength, balance and health.
Absolute Physical Therapy understands that falls are not the result of a single factor, but often a combination of factors including loss of strength, arthritis, pain, loss of mobility, inner ear dysfunction, poor vision, medication, etc., and customizes their program to each patient to better restore or compensate for their individual problems.
If you or a loved one experiences weakness, poor balance, dizziness, and difficulty walking, insurance will generally cover the cost of treatment. You can assess your risk with this simple test: Click HERE or call Absolute Physical Therapy for an easy and free screening that generally takes less than five minutes to see if physical therapy is appropriate for you. You can also start taking steps at home to immediately reduce risk factors by implementing the CDCs fall prevention home checklist.