Fall risk is an elephant in the room that people don’t like to talk about, but can have a drastic influence on one’s health. Many people, especially older individuals, are often reluctant to admit they may be at a higher risk of falling for fear of losing their independence. However, falls in older adults account for about 2 million trips to the ER every year, and several thousand of these injuries are ultimately fatal.
However, while older individuals may tend to have a higher risk of falling, just “growing old” does not cause falls. There are other causes at play, and assessing these factors is key to helping patients maintain their balance and stability. Here are some of the foot-based elements that are taken into consideration when assessing someone’s fall risk.
- Gait – Studying the way one walks can reveal a lot about underlying problems. An unsteady gait can be linked to lack of muscle strength, abnormal foot structure, arthritis, neurological conditions or other issues.
- Foot Pain – Whatever the cause of one’s foot pain, its mere presence can lead to weakness and imbalance.
- Peripheral Neuropathy – Nerve damage in the feet, whether caused via complications of diabetes or poor circulation, can decrease or outright numb sensations in the feet.
- Reflexes – Our feet and ankles quickly adjust to maintain our balance, but slowed reflexes may limit reaction times when one starts to fall.