Falls are the leading cause of injury in adults 65 and older. Some studies indicate 30-40% of community dwelling adults over the age of 65 fall at least once a year. Of those that fall, 5-10% will obtain some type of injury including a fracture. Injuries cost money. Since current evidence based medicine now shows that some simple intervention techniques can reduce the number of falls and since insurance companies and most everyone wants to save money, it is now accepted to evaluate and treat for fall prevention. This helps avoid higher costs related to injuries from falling. Bottom line, preventing falls $aves money.
Prevention starts with a comprehensive risk assessment and management as needed. Some feel that a simple over comprehensive assessment is needed to prevent falls. Either way, it seems that at least some type of assessment should be performed.
Assessments can include a simple questionnaire to include a history of falls, mobility problems, injuries, a feeling of or history of loss of balance, along with balance testing and “Get up-and-Go” testing (the time it takes a patient to rise from an armchair, walk three meters, turn and walk back and sit down again). More comprehensive evaluations may include medication evaluation and the elimination of those that may cause imbalance, vision testing, orthostatic hypotension testing and management, even neurological testing and osteoporosis evaluation.
Some protective measures may include hip protectors and home fall protection, education and counseling. Others suggest taking vitamin D and calcium supplements, although controversial. One thing well known and shown to help is exercise and physical therapy.
Most recently, ankle foot orthoses (or balance bracing) are becoming more popular for fall prevention. As a specialist in biomechanical foot assessment and treatment, this does not surprise me. Even those without balance and fall issues will frequently relate that they feel stronger on their feet with more balance. This is due to the corrective locking and unlocking of the joints in the feet. There are certain times in standing and gait that these joints need to be locked, if they are not, you can easily lose your balance. Point your toes outward and someone can easily push you down, point your toes in and it is harder for them to knock you down. This is because joints lock up with the feet pointed in.
The anklefoot orthotics or balance braces not only help the feet lock up when needed, they can also help weak or slow reactive muscles and tendons not only by support but by neurotransmitters in the skin. Either way, if it helps someone feel more steady and balanced, this is good.
Whether these evaluations are simple or complex, it is important to have the feet/ankles/legs evaluated as well by one educated in the function of the feet. Balance braces such as the Moore BalanceBrace and even functional foot orthotics can help.
Stop by ArchMasters and set up an appointment with Dr. Sables for your complimentary evaluation to get the professional foot care you may need.