Fall-Proofing our Seniors. More power to choose.

With our largest population reaching retirement age and discussion on the stress to health care facilities, thoughts have turned very much towards the idea of providing services to fall prevention, and early intervention strategies.

It has recently become popular to run classes for seniors with a view to reduce the risk of accidental fall. Statistics suggest that as many as 33% of Australians over the age of 65 will fall at least once a year.

Falls result in hospital stays, rehab costs and reduction of options for Seniors, with many pressured into moving from independent living to some form of assisted care as a consequence of concerns voiced by family members.

Many of those who fall, but are not hospitalised, manifest lack of confidence in movement, aversion to activity, long term pain, muscle wasting and fear of the future. Some experience depression and anxiety, and others loneliness due to self-imposed restrictions.

Clearly, this issue needs addressing, and better than remedy, is of course, prevention. But, how can participants be sure that these classes are achieving the correct outcomes? Are participants actually at risk in the first place? How long do these programmes take to achieve results?

Many groups are focussing on rehabilitating those who have fallen, but here at IC Sports Therapies, we are keen to assess those at potential risk, and use simple strategies to reduce it significantly.

By conducting initial testing, we establish which candidates are at risk, and the imminent risk. With calibrated testing at 3, 6 and 9 weeks of our programmes, we retest and modify our procedure in response.

We are happy to do this for other groups as well as our own.

The first step is the balance test. This establishes a number of facts related to the capacity of a client to achieve normal balance. It provides a base line to measure results of tasks undertaken, classes, and so on. We use a Humac platform, and five simple tests to establish the likely risk of fall.

Testing a patient’s balance by assessing Left/Right weight
Testing a patient’s balance by assessing their Left/Right weight distribution

Then, our therapy team conducts a physical assessment, including gait analysis. After the results are calibrated, the team prepares a programme tailored to the needs and abilities for each client. This includes clinic based treatment, small group classes, computer generated tasks, and simple home based exercises, to strengthen balance.

After three weeks the balance test is again conducted and the results assessed. We expect a demonstrable difference after this time. Current indications are that the improvement can be 40-60% in most individuals but our test population is very small at this stage.

What is most exciting about the programme is that we can test all forms of exercise for its effectiveness.

Once this three week period is completed,  another  series may commence, intensifying the challenges and tasks, depending on the requirements of the client and the amount of improvement gained. Several of our clients have implemented their own balance challenges and call in every two or three months to check their progress.

Currently, we are looking to assess a wide number of people between the age of 45 and 75 to enable us to establish fall risk in the local population. To be eligible you must live in the Hornsby area, and be available during business hours. Initially we want only people who have not had a fall within the last five years. Assessment will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday and will take around 20 minutes. At the conclusion of the study, candidates will be given an assessment of the outcomes and recommendations for action, where required.

The testing process is a valuable tool for all forms of injury recovery, and forms a crucial part of our rehab programme, allowing for rapid response to improvement and reinforcement of healthy movement patterns.

Best of all, both testing and computer based exercises are an inexpensive solution to a very expensive problem.

To discuss your requirements, sign up for a programme or to be a volunteer, please call us at IC today

IC Sports Therapies

Suite 6, Hornsby Business Centre, 14 Edgeworth David Avenue
Hornsby 2077
Phone: (02) 9477-3103
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IC Sports Therapies