Prevent falls and stay healthy longer
According to the CDC, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries with nearly 1 million resulting in some sort of fracture or head injury. When you understand the simple forces behind how falls happen, you can take steps to limit risks and reduce the likelihood of becoming another statistic.
The act of falling occurs when your center of gravity moves too far away from your base of support to control. Our center of gravity is a dynamic and changing location based on posture, body size and movement, but the easiest way to find your center of gravity is a point just above your bellybutton.
Your base of support in standing is the midpoint between your feet, which again can change and move depending on activity or positioning. In an ideal environment, these two points should stay in line to achieve perfect balance. Falls occur when these two points no longer line up (i.e. walking bent over with a walker, turning/twisting too quickly to reach for something, carrying heavy items in your hands upstairs). A shift of your center of gravity in any direction too far, can cause a fall in that direction. Unfortunately as we age, our body often struggles to maintain this relationship for various reasons, so taking steps to be proactive about safety and balance are key.
When considering fall prevention, a few simple steps can be taken to improve your stability and independence.
Talk with your physician: Your doctor can help identify risks, review medications that may increase dizziness or falls and help you take steps towards improving your safety. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation.
Make your environment safer: In your home, find ways to reduce clutter, clear paths for easy movement between rooms, reduce poorly lit areas and possibly install grab bars in the bathroom to improve stability.
Perform balance and strengthening exercises: Increasing lower body and postural strength enhances our ability to maintain the relationship between our center of gravity and base of support. A licensed Physical Therapist can help address your specific limitations that contribute to higher fall risks and reduce physical deficits to improve your quality of life.
Identifying and reducing risks help us to avoid needless falls.
Learn more about Beebe Physical Rehabilitation Services.