Falls Prevention and Physiotherapy

By Jack Gangemi

Falls place a large amount of pressure on the healthcare system and cause great personal angst in the community. Unfortunately for people over 65, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisations and the second most common cause of community injury hospitalisation.

Globally, approximately 28 to 35 per cent of people aged 65 and over fall each year. Thankfully, there is a large amount evidence showing that a targeted Physiotherapy balance exercise regime can greatly reduce the risk of falling.

The main risk factors for falls include:

  • Decreased lower limb strength
  • Poor ankle, hip and step reactions
  • Issues with glasses/eyesight
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Footwear
  • Home hazards
  • Medications
  • Dizziness/nausea

Strategies for reducing your falls risk include:

  • Physiotherapy balance and strength training
  • A medical review from a GP or Pharmacist
  • An optical check up
  • A footwear review with a Podiatrist
  • Reducing tripping hazards ie. rails in bathroom and shower

At PhysioPro, we can use standardized measures to assess balance reactions and a patient’s falls risk. From there, we can implement a tailored balance and lower limb strengthening program.

Physiotherapy for falls are aimed at 4 key areas:

  1. Gait retraining and advisement on appropriate walking aids – It is important that the patient is as independent as they can safely be. However, it is also vital that a fear of falling does not limit exercise!
  2. Balance – Targeted exercises for ankle, hip, and step reactions. We can challenge our patient’s balance reactions by manipulating their base of support (ie. standing with feet together, tandem stance, eyes closed, heel/toe walking, using Bosu balls, exercise balls, external perturbation practice etc.)
  3. Strength – Specific exercises to strengthen calf, quad, and gluteal muscles (ie. sit-to-stands, squats, bridges, lunges, calf raises etc.)
  4. Co-ordination – Putting it all together in functional movement

Contact your local PhysioPro to organise your own fall prevention program!

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