In Australia the average cost of falls prevention currently sits higher than the cost of car accidents. Falls are increasing at a rate that is out of control and by 2015 the annual bill will increase to $1.4 billion.
One in three people over the age of 65 and one in two people over the age of 80 are at risk of a fall that will lead to a serious injury. For people over the age of 65 you are three times more likely to end in hospital after a fall.
Risk factors that can contribute to falls include; strength, balance, coordination, walking speed, gait imbalances, poor vision, medication and reduced sensation of lower limbs. Exercise can help to improve most risk factors associated with falls and decrease your chance of falling. A study that was recently completed in Australia concluded that three hours of high challenging balance exercise per week slashed your risk of falling by 40% or more.
Exercise for falls prevention will cover the 5 main points below as well as work on improving your general cardiovascular fitness.
- Strengthen your lower limbs; this will help with your ability to stop yourself from falling or recover after tripping or slipping. Stronger lower limb muscles especially the calf muscles can significantly reduce your risk of falls.
- Gait imbalances; this will help to improve walking stride, stride length and help minimise your risk of tripping over your own feet. Gait training should also focus on your ability to walk properly using walking aids.
- Balance and coordination; high challenging balance exercise are proven to help reduce the risk of falls.
- Upper limb strength; this will help with your falls recovery strategies and give you the ability to pick yourself up after a fall or increase your ability to access a device to call for help.
- Walking speed; a minimum walking speed of 3.0 km per hour is recommended to stay safely active within the community.
Falls will result in a fear of falling, social isolation, avoidance of activity and decrease a person’s quality of life. Falls prevention classes are recommended to increase a person’s confidence and ability to be active within the community and stay independent. Falls prevention classes are run at OnePointHealth by our Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist every Thursday at 10am.