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Reducing the Risk of Falls

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In most situations, a fracture results from a fall or near fall event.  Consequently, it simply follows that if you don’t fall then your risk of fracture is significantly reduced.

There are a number of factors that contribute towards an individual’s risk of falling.  These include visual impairment, disorders that affect a person’s balance, weak muscle strength, delayed neural reflexes, low and/or falling blood pressure with change in posture, and obstacles in the person’s environment (such as loose rugs).  Commonly, these problems may directly relate to medications prescribed for other health condition, which are frequent in the elderly, especially in the situation when a number of medications are taken concurrently (termed polypharmacy).

Therefore, implementing interventions to address each of these risk factors can be expected to result in a reduction in the risk of falling.  An example of such an intervention is exercise.  A number of studies have confirmed the benefit of performing an exercise in improving muscle strength and function, with weight bearing exercises shown to increase muscle strength by up to 25% in the frail elderly. There are various options available, such as walking, supervised strengthening and gait stability programs, through to an enjoyable class of Tai Chi. Tai Chi has been shown to improve muscle strength as well as balance and reflexes.