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Falls among seniors are prevalent, dangerous, and can affect one's ability to lead an active and independent life. The National Aging Council estimates that one in three seniors over 65 and one in two seniors over 80 will fall at least once this year. Twenty to 30% of falls result in moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head trauma. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury in seniors.
Risk factors for falls include a history of previous falls, balance problems, leg muscle weakness, vision problems, taking more than four medications or psychoactive medications, and difficulty walking.
With many people that fall, even if they are not injured, they develop a fear of falls. When seniors are afraid to fall, they often limit their activities, causing decreased mobility and loss of physical fitness. This, in turn, actually increases their fall risk.
A physical therapist can help prevent falls and decrease fall risk. A therapist will design exercises to challenge your ability to keep your balance. Slow or unsteady walking is addressed as well. Strengthening exercises, particularly for the ankle, knee and hip muscles are a key element of fall prevention when done in conjunction with balance training, The vestibular (inner ear) system may also need to be strengthened. Therapy will also help you be able to do two tasks at one time safely, such as walking while talking or carrying an object.
If you have decreased balance and need rehabilitation intervention, the therapy staff at Passavant Community can help. They are available on an outpatient basis at (724) 452-3492 or via home health services by calling (877) 862-6659.