Perhaps the most common impairment I treat in the geriatric population is imbalance and fall risk. One in four seniors fall each year, and less than half tell their doctors. Falling once doubles your chance of falling again. Every year, 300,000 seniors are hospitalized for fall-related hip fractures, and falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Patients and their loved ones often ask me to conduct a physical therapy fall risk assessment. Some of the obvious culprits for increased fall risk are as follows:
1- Vision problems (get your eyes checked yearly) 2- Poorly-fitted or old footwear 3- Muscle weakness (mostly in core and lower extremity muscles) 4- Homes hazards (throw rugs, furniture clutter, poor lighting) 5- Medication side effects (be sure your MD reviews your medications to ensure no drug interactions that cause dizziness, imbalance and falls) 6- Low blood pressure
The last, and perhaps most common mistake I find when evaluating a senior patient, is their improper use of assistive devices. Patients often acquire assistive devices on their own (either at a store or online), and are never properly trained to use them. This is one of the greatest causes of patient falls. In fact, The Center for Disease Control lists improper use of assistive devices as one of the top risk factors for senior falls.
If you have a parent, loved one, neighbor or friend in Essex, Union, or Morris County NJ who may benefit from a fall risk assessment conducted by a skilled physical therapist in the comfort of home, please feel free to reach out to me. Please also send any questions related to this post and I'm happy to answer.