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How a fall happens: The causes, risks, and life-changing impacts on health and happiness

by Aug 10, 2023Care0 comments

Many older adults live with the fear of falling – and with the correlating negative effect on their quality of life. Too many people miss out on precious memory-making moments with family and friends, and avoid activities such as walking, shopping, or taking part in other social activities.

Proper balance is vital for staying safe during everyday activities. Each year, around 33 percent of people aged 65 years or older experience a fall. One in five of those results in serious injury.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Total Therapy – Balance, an exclusive clinical program offered by LHC Group, can help patients and their families find peace of mind. Using specialized assessment methods and treatment – tailored according to each patient’s specific needs and situation – the program identifies and addresses all issues that contribute to balance.

To understand why falls happen, we need to take it step by step. Here, we will examine some of the most common causes, risks, and results of falls at home.

What causes a fall at home?

Elizabeth Weldon , PT, COFS, and LHC Group’s national director of clinical operations, points to the underlying factors that contribute to falls at home. The usual causes often start with a deficiency or weakness in one or more components of a person’s balance system. These components include:

  • The vestibular system (the inner ear)
  • The oculomotor system (eyes/visual stability)
  • The somatosensory system (perception of touch, pressure, pain, temperature, position, etc.)
  • The musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, soft tissues)

Other contributors also play a role, many of which are often overlooked. These can include common household items that present a tripping hazard in the living environment – and even pets.

In a study conducted by the CDC, more than 86,000 human fall injuries each year are associated with cats and dogs. About 66.4 percent of falls associated with cats, and 31.3 percent of falls associated with dogs, were caused by falling or tripping over the pet. An additional 21.2 percent of falls related to dogs were caused by being pushed or pulled.

When do falls most often happen?

For the geriatric population, fall risk increases significantly at night. According to Weldon, falls often happen when older adults get up at night to go to the bathroom – hurried and operating in conditions with poor lighting. The geriatric population is often visually dependent – relying on their sense of sight, or oculomotor system –­ because of a deficiency/weakness in one of their other balance systems.

Common injuries associated with a fall

Data from the CDC suggests that each year an estimated 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. In addition, over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often due to a head injury or hip fracture.

Hip fractures are one of the most common. The CDC estimates 300,000 older people are hospitalized each year with a hip fracture. Weldon says that other injuries can include bruises, lacerations, and other fractures. These serious injuries are often a major life-changing setback for seniors who are managing and dealing with other health risks.

How we can help

Total Therapy – Balance helps people who struggle with balance deficiencies and other health issues find peace of mind and enjoy more of life’s best moments in good health, with increased confidence, and a renewed sense of independence.

Our experienced professional therapists are experts in assessing a patient’s living environment and identifying overlooked home hazards. By evaluating and addressing deficits in all four balance systems, we can treat the underlying cause of balance dysfunction and deliver superior results over traditional therapy – which often considers only the musculoskeletal system. Treatments and assessments include:

  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication management
  • A plan to make your home safer for everyday navigation

Find balance – find peace of mind. Ask your doctor about Total Therapy – Balance and how it can help safeguard your home and put you and your loved ones on firmer footing.

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