- Posted on: Dec 4 2019
The risk of falling is related to multiple factors, both modifiable and non-modifiable. This means that there are factors or circumstances that can be controlled, or modified, and those that can’t be, the non-modifiable elements in our surroundings and in our lives. As we enter the winter season, it is important to remind ourselves of non-modifiable environmental factors, such as ice and snow, and non-modifiable personal considerations, which include advancing age and chronic conditions. These are factors that we cannot control but that we must account for as we prepare for the challenges of winter and work actively to reduce the risk of falling.
Modifiable factors, that is, those over which we can exercise control, include muscle strength, use of assistive devices, lighting, obstacles, and trip hazards. We can control these factors by actively addressing them and modifying them for the better by increasing muscle strength, addressing decreased balance, properly using assistive devices, providing good lighting, and eliminating movement hazards.
Falls dramatically decrease independence and can lead to complications, such as hip fractures, further contributing to disability. Fear of falling is also a complicating factor that increases the risk of falling. Fear of falling leads to decreased activity levels – “playing it safe” by not risking activity — which in turn causes a decline in properly addressing modifiable factors by failing to engage in strength and balance training.
Falls typically occur due to a combination of risk factors. By addressing modifiable risk factors, the incidence of falls can be significantly reduced. Physical therapists can use multiple screening/risk assessment tools to determine a patient’s risk of falling, as well as identify areas of deficit to direct treatment. Physical therapy interventions targeted at strength and balance training can reduce the risk of falling and greatly improve independence of movement.
Follow the first CDC link below for a quick and easy to use home safety checklist. The second CDC link will take you to information on the STEADI initiative including educational information and facts sheets related to falls.
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