Becky the owner and head chiropractor here at Back2Balance has written about the risk of falls, fall prevention and what could help.
When we talk about risk of falls, and fall prevention, there are several facets that can be looked at. Balance/proprioception, strength and core, eye sight, and other health conditions/co-morbidities. Let’s have a look at some stats before we talk about how being under chiropractic/osteopathic care could help.
According to the World Health Organisation, 28-35% of older people (≥65 years) fall each year globally and prevalence increases with age. Falls are the main cause of injury, injury related disability, and death in older people. The severity of resulting injuries varies, and 40-60% of falls result in major lacerations, fractures, or traumatic brain injuries. Close to 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falls. One-year mortality after hip fracture is 21% once the fracture is surgically addressed. If a hip fracture is not addressed with surgery, the one-year mortality is about 70%. Several studies have shown that the all-cause mortality rate doubles for elderly patients after a hip fracture.
We know that poor muscle strength and balance are the two most common modifiable risk factors for falls. We also know that falls have a huge impact on people who can lose mobility and confidence to keep doing things on their own after having a fall, often ending up requiring more hospital and social care. Every year there are over 210,000 falls-related emergency hospital admissions among people aged 65 and older in England (PHE, 2018). It is estimated that falls cost the NHS around £1 billion a year (Leal J et al, 2016).
Here at Back 2 Balance, we test every new client’s balance as part of our health screen. Inability to stand on one leg (eyes open and eyes closed), posture, and core are all functional tests that can be measured.
Falls are a major problem
There is a growing understanding about how chiropractic care can impact our brain’s ability to know where the arms and legs are (without looking) and how our brains controls the muscles of the body. These sensorimotor functions are also very important for maintaining balance and preventing falls.
One interesting study tested ‘community-dwelling’ older adults receiving chiropractic care over a 12 week period, compared to ‘usual care’. Dr Kelly Holt recorded things like ankle joint position sense, postural stability, a multi sensory test, reaction times, and a self-perceived health-related quality of life questionnaire. Results were amazing!
• Significant improvement in ankle joint position sense (participants’ brains were more accurately aware of what was going on at their ankles without having to look at their feet).
• able to react and move their feet faster than before they started chiropractic care. this particular type of stepping reaction time has been shown to be a significant independent predictor of falls in the older adults. This was significantly improved after 12 weeks of chiropractic care, whilst none of these changes were found in the control group!
• sound-induced flash illusion test was performed on the participates. This test is seeing if sound/noise affected their brain to process vision. Does the sound disturb the brain’s ability to see if one or two flashes were reported. This test has been used extensively in studies over the last 10 years and that altered multi sensory processing may be associated with an increased risk of falling in older adults. Guess what…this was also improved after 12 weeks/min 24 sessions of chiropractic care.
• it was also great to discover that the participants in the chiropractic care group, reported a significant improvement in the physical component of health- related quality of life.
So from looking at these factors, getting adjusted by your chiropractors and osteopaths here at Back 2 Balance, can help your brain work more clearly and control what the body/limbs do. Add to this a good rehab programme focussing on strength, core, flexibility and balance, and you have a fantastic and in my opinion, an under utilised profession.
Our intention is to encourage as many local people as possible to get checked to see how their bodies are performing.; to work on areas of dysfunction and health ahead of time, preventing falls and other preventable chronic lifestyle diseases. We want to see our community age well, and to enjoy their later golden years.