Fight the Fall! Understanding Fall Risk & Prevention

Fight the Fall! Understanding Fall Risk

At FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers, fall prevention is the cornerstone of our mission; “Balance” is part of our name after all! The week of September 21st is the start of the fall season, but it also kicks off Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Each year we bring focus to this very important topic though our “Fight the Fall!” campaign.

We are offering FREE Fall Risk Assessments to identify individuals of all ages and conditions at risk of falling. In fact, as a national organization, FYZICAL is looking to set a record for the most Fall Risk Assessments conducted during Fall Prevention Awareness Week: September 21st-25th!

To set up your free screening, call us at [phone number] to request an appointment today!

Falls are preventable. If you or someone you know suffers from imbalance, keep in mind that early intervention is key. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging, and there are steps you can take to improve your balance and decrease the chances of falling. By identifying risk, future injuries can be prevented.  Our skilled physical therapists will create a program specifically tailored to your needs, so you can begin your quest to regain your footing, your confidence, and your freedom. Together we can Fight the Fall!

What You Should Know About Fall Risk & Prevention

Just about everyone has experienced a fall at some point after losing their balance or tripping over an object. Although common, falls can be dangerous and lead to many types of injuries, some of them long-term or even fatal. Fortunately, the most common causes of falling are also preventable.

What happens in the body when we fall?

Falling occurs because the body’s balance has been disrupted. A person’s body can maintain balance because the brain receives and interprets information from several different types of sources:1

Vision (from the eyes)
Proprioception (from the joints and muscles, which provide sense of touch)
Vestibular system (from the inner ear, which senses motion, equilibrium, and where we are in a physical space)
Based on this input, the brain sends information to different parts of the body to help maintain balance. Sometimes the different sources may send conflicting information. For example, have you ever gotten off of a treadmill, boat, or out of a moving car only to feel like you are still moving?

Most of the time, the brain can correct conflicting information to keep a person steady on their feet. Occasionally, however, a person may become off-balance and fall.

Falling is both common and dangerous.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than one out of four older people (those aged 65 and up) falls each year.2 Twenty percent of falls lead to serious injuries, such as broken bones or a head injury.

The CDC also has found:

  • More than 3 million older people are injured in falls and receive treatment in emergency departments each year.
  • At least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures each year. Of these hip fractures, 95 percent are caused by falling.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
  • Medical costs for falls in 2015 were more than $50 billion, with Medicare and Medicaid taking on 75 percent of these costs.
  • A person who falls once becomes more likely to fall again, especially at an older age.
  • People who have fallen in the past tend to become fearful of another fall, which can make them socially withdrawn or less
  • physically active, which actually increases the risk of falls.

What are the risks of falling?

The risk of falling increases with age, but falls can happen to anyone, at any time, for many different reasons. Most cases of falling involve several different causes or risk factors.3,4 Some of the more common types include:

  • Muscle weakness, especially in the legs
  • Lack of vitamin D
  • Trouble with walking or balance
  • Side effects of medications like sedatives, antidepressants, or cold medicine that can cause drowsiness or dizziness
  • Poor vision
  • Loss of hearing
  • Foot pain or improper footwear
  • Uneven flooring or stairs
  • Clutter in the home
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, or confusion
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Poor balance
  • Incontinence that causes frequent or urgent trips to the bathroom
  • Drop-in blood pressure
  • Walking on ice or wet floors
  • If you find that you are dizzy or otherwise losing your balance, don’t ignore it. It’s important to seek help as soon as balance issues begin. A lot of people wait too long. But the longer you wait, the worse it can get.

How can physical therapy help prevent falls?

Improving your walking skills — technically known as your “gait” — and your balance are interrelated challenges. At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, we help you master these skills to decrease your risk of injury, while also increasing your confidence and independence.

Balance and gait are inextricably linked because they tend to impact one another. Therapy that improves gait and balance works to help keep the body’s different balance and movement systems functioning in harmony.

Gait and balance training has a range of benefits:

Avoiding injuries associated with falls or dizziness
Increased confidence with your footing and movement
Reduced pain from poor posture or gait

What happens in balance and gait training?

First, we’ll evaluate your gait to determine potential problems with strength and posture. Simple movements to test balance are also part of the assessment. Together, these basic evaluations help us know what to focus on in terms of therapy.

Hip and ankle weakness often leads to balance problems, as does poor posture. Strength and flexibility movements can help counteract these problems. These are often as simple as leg lifts while seated in a chair, or “knee marching.” We may also practice standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, or tracking the movement of your thumb with your eyes as you move it in various positions.

The team at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers knows how important balance and walking are for independent living, as well as for work activities, exercise, sports, and enjoying life in general.

We offer the following programs and therapies to help reduce the risk of falls:

  • Assessment and Evaluation Programs
  • Difficulty Walking
  • Gait Training and Balance Programs
  • Fall Prevention and Balance Retraining
  • Manual Therapy
  • Fitness and Wellness Programs
  • Vestibular Rehab
  • Functional Training

Love Your Life!

With our dedicated team of physical therapists behind you, you’ll regain confidence in navigating challenging terrain and learning how to avoid dizzy spells. You may even be able to leave that cane or walker behind!

Sources:

How To Avoid Injuries While Hiking

During this unprecedented time our physical therapists have been getting out of the house and enjoying what nature has to offer around the Gulf Coast of Florida. Karrie, one of our physical therapists, out of our Crestview and Niceville locations loves hiking the Florida Trail

Karrie’s Hiking Route

She recently hiked 13.1 miles between the Crestview entrance on South 85 highway all the way to Mossy Head exit on highway 285. During her hike she realized she was constantly avoiding injuries like a sprain ankle, a twisted knee, and dehydration. She says, “Foot placement is key to avoid injuries.” 

 

To prevent ankle sprains and knee injuries ensure to stretch before you hike. This will help stretch out the muscles and ligaments in the legs and feet, which can help reduce the likelihood or severity of an ankle sprain or further injury. 

Karrie and her son on a 2 mile hike

Here’s her check list of tips on staying safe while you hike: 

-Be mindful of your walking. Make sure to always place your foot in a secure location.

-Be sure to always look more closer in front of you vs when you are running on asphalt 

-Supportive footwear can save your life – if you aren’t wearing proper shoes for the activity you are participating in, you have a much high chance of an injury

-Pack lots of water

-And always check for ticks when you complete your hike, even inside your clothes and hair 

Karrie goes one step further to stay safe during hikes. She says, “Never hike long distances alone, always have your cell phone on full charge when you start the hike, and share your location with someone not hiking.”  

If you have a concern about avoiding an injury or recovering from one, always reach out to one of our providers before participating in a physical activity.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have! 

Hips For Life Part 2

Hips For Life Part 2 

We hosted our first Hips For Life virtual workshop with Ruth Jenkins, PT, Certified Orthopedic  Manual Therapist. She discussed how to keep your hips healthy and why that is important!

We have two exercises we suggest doing at home that will minimize your hip pain, strengthen your hips, and help you regain balance. Click the below image to watch how to complete both exercises.

Exercise #1 

1. Hold onto a counter

2. Lean forward and bring your right leg behind you

3. Start doing small movements while keeping your knees straight

4. While you are doing that be sure to make sure your other hip is nice and straight

Exercise #2

1. Stand on a small towel in your kitchen floor

2. Slide your foot out to the side and then back in and as fast as you can

3. Continue to keep the opposite leg you are standing on straight

4. Continue doing this exercise until you feel the burn

Hips For Life Part 1

Have Hip Pain?

We hosted our first Hips For Life virtual workshop with Ruth Jenkins, PT, Certified Orthopedic  Manual Therapist. She discussed how to keep your hips healthy and why that is important!

It’s crucial to keep your hips healthy since they are involved in most major movements. If you are experiencing pain it can stop you from participating in a lot of things such as walking, golf, tennis, running, and everyday chores, etc.

Many times when a patient comes in with back pain and knee pain it can be from the hip joint or vice versa. The hip is often under diagnosed and undertreated. Hip pain can occur anywhere from 13 years old and up to 100+ years old. Teen girls often have hip and knee pain related to their standing habits and for those of us over 20, we begin to wear on the cartilage and start to get degeneration of the hip joints. This would give groin pain. Did you know women have more hip issues than men? This is because women have a different shape of their pelvis vs. men and so men receive less wear on theirs.

Sometimes you have hip pain that is caused by pain in other areas of your body. For example, if you have a tight back, then your hips typically compensate for your back or vice versa.

True hip pain is felt in the groin.

Common causes of hip pain is Osteoarthritis: 

  • Morning stiffness greater than 60 minutes.
  • Cannot bring the knee to the chest (115 degrees).
  • Difficulty putting on shoes/ socks.

In some cases some patients have what we like to call Lateral Hip Pain (LHP):

  • Pain is local to the outside of the hip.
  • May radiate to the outside of the thigh and to just below the knee.
  • Pain may radiate to the groin or into the buttock.

Usually, someone would get hip pain with a sudden increase of activity or daily activity, a slip or fall, if they are perimenopausal, and gradual tendon change ( LHP ) due to muscle weakness and imbalance. If you have increased pain by laying at night, pain with walking, climbing stairs, standing on one leg (typically when you get dressed), pain with sitting in a low chair, or pain with sitting crossed legged all of these symptoms can be caused from hip pain.

Did you know only 7% of the population reach out for physical therapy treatment? The other 93% are rushing straight into surgery or reaching for medications. At FYZICAL Northwest Florida, we use all preventative measures to keep you healthy.

Our physical therapists’ goals are to help you achieve less pain, more flexibility, more strength, and more getting back to what you enjoy.

Hips are important because they are the link to us standing, walking, and moving. If you are experiencing hip pain and would like to see what FYZICAL of Northwest Florida can do for you please contact us. 

Find out on our next blog post what you can do at home to manage and minimize your hip pain!