Fall prevention is an important matter that is not discussed as often as it should be. As the body ages, the risk factors of experiencing a fall tend to increase. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 2.5 million people age 65 or older visit the emergency room for fall-related injuries.
The dangers associated with falling are real, with falls being the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and 95% of hip fractures. The psychological effects of falling can also be substantial. Someone who suffers a fall may become afraid of falling again and retreat more from everyday life. As they move less, their muscles weaken, increasing their fall risk further.
Helping You Stay on Your Feet
Preventing falls takes a holistic approach to one’s health and environment. Just because we see the trend of older individuals falling more does not mean this is an unavoidable problem or one that cannot be acted against. Taking care of your feet and ankles is part of a larger plan—although no less an important one. Let’s take a look at some of the issues and obstacles that should be considered when evaluating someone’s fall risk.
Foot Pain – If you have ever tried to walk on an injured foot, you are well aware how the pain can contribute to weakness and instability. Consistent foot pain can stem from a number of sources—including gait abnormalities, plantar fasciitis, and neuropathy, among others—but any case can lead to a fall. Not only can pain lead to a foot or ankle “giving out” suddenly, but it can also cause a reluctance to exercise and a gradual reduction in strength over time. Staying on top of painful feet and ankles with effective treatment is an essential part of any fall prevention plan.
Improper Footwear – Refreshing one’s shoes tends to fall to the wayside with some people later in life. Soles can be worn down to smooth, slick surfaces or the shoe could no longer fit well due to changes in foot size. Either of these situations can lead to an increased risk of tripping or slipping, while footwear such as high heels and flip-flops can increase the risk in people of any age!
External Stability – Safeguards in and out of the home can help supplement one’s own strength and stability where it may be flagging. This includes railings, grab bars, no-slip pads and other devices in the home, as well as orthotics and easy-to-wear braces that can be worn to increase balance and support where it may be needed. This also means removing hazards such as piles of shoes near the door or throw rugs that can bunch up underfoot. A close look at all options can prevent an accident before it starts.
Above are only a few foot- and ankle-related matters to take into consideration when assessing fall risks. Others may include vision, medications, and previous injuries. Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona is more than happy to work with other professionals to create an effective, all-encompassing plan that reduces fall risks, helps prevent injury, and keeps individuals active and independent.We have two offices in the greater Phoenix area open to serve. Contact us at (480) 963-9000 for our Chandler office or (480) 981-1800 for our Gilbert office