According to the Centers for Disease Control: 30% of people aged 65 and older and more than 50% of those above 80 will fall and suffer moderate to severe injuries this year. For those 65 and older falls are are the leading cause of ER visits and the number one cause of hospital admissions due to trauma. Since 2004, our Orange County Physical Therapists have been helping aging adults improve strength, flexibility, and balance through multi-component exercise programs.
Benefits of our Multi-Component Fall Prevention & Exercise Programs
Stronger and Larger Muscles
Strengthen Bones (stronger bones are more resistant to fractures and breaks)
Better Brain Function: Regular exercise maintains cognitive abilities which help avoid situations leading to a risk of falling
According to the CDC, the average cost of a hospital admission due to a fall is around $20,000. By 2030, it is estimated that $54 billion will be spent annually on health care costs, directly and indirectly, related to falls. The research indicates that effective interventions reduce the risk of fall by 35-40%. The term “fall prevention” doesn’t mean totally eliminating falls but rather minimizing the risk. In other words, preventing the falls we can.
For community-dwelling older adults, a minimum of 50 hours of exercise is needed to effectively reduce the risk and rate of falls. These hours can be accumulated over a period of 3 months or more. Programs that achieved this minimum amount of exercise over a six month period or less are more effective than those that take greater than six months, but both are effective.
It’s challenging to achieve 50 hours of balance exercise solely from physical therapy settings, therefore alternative ways to achieve this goal can be seen below:
MEANS OF ACHIEVING EXERCISE
Tai Chi, reaching, turning, stair stepping, etc
Dynamic Gait Training
Various challenging steps such as figure 8’s, directional changes on command, obstacle course, and dual-task training
Walking at a set speed while carrying a cup of water
A key element of any fall prevention program
One of the safest and easiest forms of aerobic exercise
Perturbations and Compensatory Stepping Training
Improve reaction times and fall recovery scenarios
Exact guidelines for frequency and duration of exercise regimens for the elderly are still being debated however themes that are common throughout the research are: consistency of performance, structured progression, and a program tailored to the needs of the individual.
For example, individuals with significant functional impairments often see greater benefit from a functional exercise program with routines progressing in difficulty or resistance, whereas an individual with cognitive impairment might benefit from a more rigidly structured, static program in which the same exercises are performed exactly the same way every time.
Patients who are at risk of falling need long-term supervised exercise and balance training to prevent them from accidents and injury. In an effort to allow patients to continue their therapy after their insurance sessions have expired, our clinic offers a new, supervised gym/physical therapy program called PTS FIT. This program offers 2 physical therapy sessions a month along with unlimited supervised gym access and support during business hours. This has and continues to be, a safe and effective way for our patients to continue to progress steadily and work on their individual goals.
If you are experiencing dizziness and feel you are unstable and unbalanced, don’t let anyone convince you this is a normal part of aging. Contact our top-rated physical therapy clinic to find out how we can help reduce your risk of injury while improving balance, strength, and mobility.