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The Science of Trips and Falls

As the owner of SYNERGY Home Care of Rochester I routinely get phone calls from the adult children of prospective clients.  They tell me that the parent will be discharge soon from; Crittenton Hospital, Boulevard Health Center or Hearthland Rehabilitation.  The reason their parent was at the facility was because they had fallen and fractured either their leg or hip.

On September 24 I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal titled “From Athletes to the Elderly: The Science of Trips and Falls”.   The article states that research into how we maintain our balance could help athletes and prevent falls among the elderly.  Researchers found that maintaining stability and balance with each step requires complex coordination of foot placement, arm movement, trunk angle and head and neck motion.  That because every step is different than the one before.  This requires us to make small changes in our stride.

The research team outfitted a long term care facility with video cameras and recorded the residences going about there activities of daily living.  They recorded 227 falls from 130 individuals in a three year period.  This is interesting, Tripping caused just 1 out of 5 incidence 20%.  The biggest reason for failing 41% was due to incorrect weight shifting, like leaning over too far forward.

To reduce the likelihood of the elderly falling, here are a couple of simple changes.

1.        Raise and swing your arms will help to restore or maintain balance when walking.

2.        Minimize the forward lean of your head and torso.  Walk erect like a soldier marching.

I hope that you can convey this information to your elderly parents, so that we can reduce the likelihood of leg and hip fractures due to falls.

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