Falls and hip fractures have a huge impact on both the person who fell, their families and the public health system. 20% of the elderly who experience a hip fracture die within one year, 30% become permanently disabled and 80% become less able to carry out their activities as they once did. Even those who don’t suffer a fracture face challenges after a fall – reduced mobility, social isolation, depression and fear of another fall take a large toll on both physical and mental wellbeing.
Osteopaths see a lot of people who are over the age of 65, and are are well placed to help identify people at risk of falls, and to help intervene effectively.
Some of the factors that increase fall risk can be modified through work with an osteopath: improving strength and functional mobility is a core part of osteopathic practice. Ankle and foot mobility and strength are associated with falls risk. Referral to community based postural stability programmes with specialised instructors can reduce falls by nearly 30% as can home based exercises plans focussed on balance and stability.
You might be surprised to hear that Tai Chi is actually a well evidenced intervention to reduce falls. What does it have in common with stability exercise programmes? Both of these interventions improve lower limb strength and balance, which work together to allow people to ‘steady’ themselves where they might otherwise fall.
Osteopaths can be a great part of a collaborative care approach to falls prevention. Ask for advice if you’re worried. I’m here to help.