Fall prevention is something that is often overlooked when assessing patients but it is not something to be taken lightly. These staggering true facts open our eyes to the hazards of falls:
- Of those over age 65, 1 in 3 fall each year
- Of those who have fallen, half of them will likely fall again within a year
- Falls in the senior population lead to many injuries, including death as well as extreme medical costs
- In 2007 unintentional falls caused 18,000 deaths in the senior population
- In 2000 medical costs due to falls were estimated at $200 million
Many older patients that sustain a fall become afraid of falling again and decrease their activity to prevent the risk of falling. This not only limits their independence, but also leads to a decrease in physical health and fitness thus increasing their risk of falling. Falls CAN be prevented though. To help prevent falls it is essential to have a fall assessment performed at least once a year.
Fall assessment examinations are a simple way to evaluate the likelihood a person will suffer a fall, and assign appropriate personalized treatment options to prevent falling. This test involves having a trained professional, such as your podiatrist, observe the patient stand from a seated position, walk through a doorway, turn, and sit down. It also includes balance and vision testing as well as a medication review. Based on a numbered scoring system a risk level is assigned to the patient. Factors that increase falling risks include:
- Older age
- Living alone
- Previous falls
- Acute illness
- Using a walker or cane
- Use of multiple medications
- Decreased vision and/or hearing
- Muscle weakness and instability
- Neurologic changes
- Ill-fitting shoe gear
If following a fall assessment it is determined that a patient is at moderate to high risk for falls, several viable treatment options are readily available. The patient may be referred to a specialist to fix any vision, hearing or other systemic problems that may attribute to the fall risk. Physical and occupational therapy may also be incorporated to increase the patient’s strength and mobility.
One treatment option alone can decrease fall risk by 30-60%-the Moore Balance Brace (MBB). The MBB is a medical device designed to improve balance, stabilize the foot, and prevent falls. The revolutionary design of the brace addresses and resolves multiple causes of falls:
- Reduces the body’s postural sway
- Stabilizes the foot and ankle, even when weakness and fatigue exists
- Stimulates skin receptors providing feedback to the brain
- Improves foot clearance reducing the risk of tripping
These braces are custom and American made. These soft braces are discrete, light weight, and padded to provide superior comfort. Velcro latches make them easy to get on, even for those who supper from arthritis or phalange amputations. They are custom made for each individual patient from his/her foot mold. The braces fit in most appropriate shoe gear without needing to increase shoe size. Moore Balance Braces are billed through insurance and allowed by most major insurance companies including Medicare and Medicaid.
Falls in the senior population are an all too common occurrence often with detrimental outcomes and should not be overlooked. Falls CAN be prevented and with proper evaluation and treatment these patients can live a long, healthy, active life. Call 309-661-9975 or click here to schedule a fall assessment exam.