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It is a wintery wonderland out there this season, and along with the snow comes ice and more chances of slipping and falling. According to the Center of Disease Control, if you are 65 years or older, your chances of falling are 1 in 3. You most likely either know someone who has experienced a fall, or have fallen yourself. And once you fall, the chances of falling again are doubled.
An estimated one of out five falls cause serious injury, like broken bones or head injury. Over 700,000 people each year are hospitalized because of injuries from falling. These injuries can directly affect your ability to perform activities and live independently. Even if you aren’t hurt by the fall, you may develop a fear of falling again. As a result, you tend to become less active, and therefore weaker, which then places you at a higher risk for falls.
You may think that the solution is to stay inside then, away from the ice and snow.
Unfortunately, staying inside does not guarantee your safety – many falls take place indoors as well. Poor lighting, foot wear, and throw rugs can lead to falls in the house, as can vision problems, taking too many medication, and even Vitamin D deficiency! Weaker leg muscles and feeling unsteady on your feet can also contribute to falling.
So how can you prevent this vicious cycle from starting? There are a few things you can do. Make sure to remove any tripping hazards, like boxes, toys, and floor rugs from stairs and floors. Keep lights in stairwells. See your doctor about any causes as to why you might feel dizzy or unsteady on your feet. Get your vision checked. Schedule an appointment with your physical therapist for a Falls Risk Assessment.
The assessment will help pinpoint factors that can decrease either your chances of falling for the first time, or if you have experienced a fall, can help you reduce your fear and risk of repeated falls. If part of the problem is balance issues or leg weakness, your Doctor of Physical Therapy is uniquely qualified to customize a program for improving both.
Get started today by calling your local New Jersey Trinity Rehab.
By Valerie Dellocono, PT, MTC and Marc Mangulabnan, PT, DPT