Every year, one out of three older adults trips, slips, slides, or loses their balance and experiences a fall. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that falls and fall-related injuries result in nearly $34 billion (with a B) in medical costs in the US. Falls can lead to sprains, broken bones, and even head injuries. These injuries can result in hospitalization and loss of mobility and independence.
People aging with disabilities also experience high rates of falling. The NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Promoting Health Aging for Individuals with Long-Term Physical Disabilities (Aging RRTC) found that adults with disabilities like post-polio syndrome, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury report falling “more often than not.” Problems with equilibrium, vision, and coordination put people with these long-term physical disabilities at risk of falling and sustaining an injury. Other studies have shown that falling can also be a risk for people who have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury, with loss of equilibrium or vision among the factors increasing that risk.
The best way to survive a fall is not to fall at all! What can you do to “stay vertical?”
- The Aging RRTC has a great fact sheet with recommendations for exercise and activities to improve strength and balance.
- The CDC has a collection of fall prevention programs which can be implemented at the local level.
- The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability associate director Amy Rauworth wrote about fall prevention for the F.I.T.T column.
- NCHPAD also has an excellent series called First Steps to Active Health: Balance and Flexibility Exercises for Older Adults.
- And a section on fall injury prevention.
- Think about safety! AbleData lists a broad range of safety solutions for walking, bathing, standing, and more.
- An occupational therapist can work with you on evaluating your home for tripping or falling hazards and help you select the right modifications or equipment to help you feel safe at home. Learn how an OT can help with this fact sheet from the American Occupational Therapy Association.
- Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to ask about home safety options.
- If you do experience a fall, alert your health professional as soon as possible to be evaluated for any injuries. The sooner you receive help, the faster you can recover.
What’s the latest research in falls, fall prevention, and recovery from falls? We explored the REHABDATA database using EQUILIBRIUM, a Thesaurus term. The links below return abstracts for items available from our collection.
- Equilibrium research from the NIDILRR community (82 abstracts)
- Equilibrium research from other sources (2010-2015 508 abstracts)
- Equilibrium and assistive technology (42 abstracts)
- Equilibrium and older adults (135 abstracts)
- Equilibrium and brain injury (40 abstracts)
- Equilibrium and virtual reality (15 abstracts)
- Equilibrium and gait (171 abstracts)
- Equilibrium and falls and rehabilitation (229 abstracts)
The majority of the articles, books, and reports abstracted in REHABDATA can be ordered through our document delivery service for a nominal fee of 5¢ per page. Looking for more research on falls, fall prevention, and rehabilitation after a fall? Call us at 800/346-2742 or visit us at www.naric.com to chat with an information specialists Monday to Friday, 8:30-5:30 ET.