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MHS Physical Therapists Give Fall Prevention Presentation


Photo: MHS Physical Therapist, Jacob Loucks works with a volunteer from the audience to demonstrate ways to test a person’s ability to balance on one foot.

Memorial Health System’s Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Physical therapists Jacob Loucks and Jeff Sanborn met with Frontier Estates residents to help them better understand ways to prevent falls.

More than one-third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Among older adults, falls cause over 39% of injury deaths, making them the leading cause by a wide margin. Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate-to-severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head traumas. Fall injuries can limit mobility and independent living, and can increase the risk of early death.

Every hour, there are two deaths and 251 emergency department visits for falls-related injuries among older adults. Falling and fear of falling as you age should NOT be accepted as a “normal” process of aging. The causes of falls can be found and addressed. There are certain changes that may cause people to fall:

  • Less flexibility in the lower extremity joints
  • Decreased muscle strength around the ankles, knees, and hips
  • Slower walking speed, tendency to take smaller steps
  • Decreased balance
  • Less coordination
  • Decreased reflexes and longer reaction time
  • Changes in vision and sensation
  • Decreased activity

Fear of falling is a lasting concern that can lead to an individual avoiding activities that he or she remains capable of performing. This can be a serious and widespread problem among older adults, causing them to restrict their normal activities resulting in less independence.

A person’s home is the PRIMARY location for non-fatal, unintentional falls. This includes inside and the area surrounding the outside of a person’s home. The outside environment can pose several major safety hazards such as stairs with no handrails and uneven pathways.

To assess your fall risk, you should see a physical therapist for a fall risk assessment. The physical therapist will take a thorough history, perform tests and measures, and provide you with interventions to reduce your risk for falling.

Successful programs for fall prevention may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Education
  • Medication management
  • Environmental modification
  • Other approaches targeted to individual risk factors that may contribute to falls (such as impairments in vision, foot problems, continence)

A physical therapist will conduct an examination and evaluation for fall risk; then design an individual plan of care to address and improve whatever is causing the fall risk.

For more information about fall risks, or to schedule an appointment to learn more, please call Memorial Health System’s Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine office at 785-263-6664.

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