The Danger of Elderly Falls

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Balance impairments leading to fall related injuries in the elder population is a major concern in health care today. The risk of falls significantly increases with age and waning balance abilities. An astonishing one third of all adults over the age of 65 report falling each year. This risk can lead to increased morbidity, mortality, and health care cost. In fact, fall related costs are currently expected to exceed 32 billion dollars by the year 2020.

The incidents of falls in older adults can be seen as a cascade of various progressing issues starting with decreased confidence in performing general movements that require balance. This lack of confidence leads to fear of falling resulting in decreased physical activity and reduced freedom of mobility, resulting in a further decline in postural stability and overall quality of life.

The culprit of these injury-causing accidents can often be attributed to structural and functional declines of the somatosensory system that occurs with aging and can potentially lead to postural instability in older adults. Here at PT Solutions, we are currently conducting research as a means to improve overall balance within the elderly population by improving postural control of the trunk and hips. We are doing this by using laser proprioception biofeedback training methods to help retrain the brain on where the body is in space. The hope is to improve hip and trunk control that will lead to enhancing functional balance in patients that are at high fall risk. As this research is conducted, we have already seen a great improvement with patients with Parkinson’s disease and plan to continue to conduct further research.


 

About the PT
Current Orthopedic Resident of PT Solutions, Matthew Osborne, PT, DPT, ATC is not only involved in the community by treating patients within the walls of the Harbin Clinic in Cartersville, Georgia, but he can also be found coaching women’s lacrosse for the Walton Jr. Raiders. Osborne, a native to Cobb County, played goalkeeper in high school and college and is very familiar with what it takes to have a good defense in lacrosse. He has taken on the challenge of not only completing a residency, but also being the assistant coach to head coach Chandler Meyers, providing his expertise on the defensive end. To the parents who have seen him in action carrying off the field and treating the injured players on the sidelines, it is a huge relief knowing that he is not only an athletic trainer, but a doctor in physical therapy as well. Osborne plans to continue coaching lacrosse and mentoring students following his completion of his residency within the area as a means to not only improve physical therapy awareness, but to give back to the community as well.