Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home Safety

We have recently reviewed balance and falls including risk factors and prevention.  Since my last blog post I have been working some time as a Home Health Physical Therapist and I have noticed some common household “hazards” in my patients’ homes, which can lead to an increased risk of falls.  Although most of my Home Health patients have been those who have had recent surgeries and/or are currently using assistive devices these obstacles in the home setting can increase risk of falls.  Be sure to assess your home for the following items to make sure trips and falls are decreased:
  1. Pick up/Remove most throw rugs from your house.
  2. Make sure there is enough space between your individual pieces of furniture for safe navigation 
  3. Either remove or safely cover any electrical/extension cords
  4. Have night lights installed for appropriate lighting
  5. Place non-skid mats on any potentially wet or slippery surface. 
  6. Keep stairways and other walkways free of clutter.
  7. Install hand rails on both sides of stairs or in showers/bathtubs.
These few simple changes can help you and your loved ones avoid injury and/or hospitalization.  If you need help with your home safety, be sure to talk to your local physical therapist.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Balance and Falls

Falls are extremely common among the elderly population.  “One in three seniors over the age of 65, and nearly one in two seniors over the age of 80 will fall at least once this year.”1  These falls can be dangerous, lead to loss of independence and often have devastating consequences.  With our aging population in America it is more important than ever to address the risk factors that lead to these falls and concentrate on prevention techniques.

Risk factors associated with falls include poor balance, older age, weakness, and diminished vision.  Other medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes, and Parkinson disease lead to loss of balance and increase the possibility of a fall.  It should be noted that anyone on more than four medications may also have decreased balance due to dizziness or other side effects.

Maintaining a relatively high but safe level of physical activity can help prevent falls.  It is important that a physical therapist or other qualified healthcare professional help formulate a safe exercise program.  Your physical therapist will be able to:

·         Obtain your detailed medical history
·         Complete an individualized physical examination of any present risk factors. 
·         Address your strength, gait mechanics (how you walk), and your flexibly. 
·         Recommend, based on your condition, other treatment options such as aquatics classes, Tai Chi (which helps with weight shifting, coordination and posture), or other balance or walking classes.

Hayashida and Associates offers multiple qualified professionals who can help you or your loved ones prevent unnecessary falls.