The importance of falls prevention

Each year in NSW, Falls and associated injuries lead to 27,000 hospitalisations and 400 deaths. Falls injuries have the highest costing to the NSW health system over any other incident, including road trauma. 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. 

However, Falls do not just occur in the elderly or people aged over 65. Falls are common in younger adults and can be as a result of numerous chronic conditions such as vertigo, stroke, lower limb neuropathy and muscle weakness.

Risk factors that can contribute to falls include; strength, balance, coordination, walking speed, gait imbalances, poor vision, medication and reduced sensation of lower limbs. 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. 

Falls prevention is more than just balance training; exercise should cover the 5 main points below;

  1. Strengthen your lower limbs; Stronger lower limb muscles especially the calf muscles can significantly reduce your risk of falls. 

  2. Gait imbalances; this will help to improve walking stride, stride length and help minimise your risk of tripping over your own feet and also incorporate correct use of walking aids.

  3. Balance and coordination; high challenging balance exercise are proven to help reduce the risk of falls. 

  4. Upper limb strength; this will help with your falls recovery strategies and give you the ability to pick yourself up after a fall.

  5. Walking speed; a minimum walking speed of 3.0 km per hour is recommended to stay safely active within the community. 

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 Tuesday and Thursday at 10am and are targeted at people of all ages and abilities.

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