1 in 3 people aged over 65 years fall every year in Australia.
Physiotherapists play a crucial role in the prevention of falls.
Falls can result in injury, reduced confidence, and a subsequent reduction in activity levels and participation in everyday life.
Falls often occur due when there is a mismatch between an individual’s physiological function, such as their strength, balance, flexibility, vision or sensation and the environment they are in or the task they are performing.
Physiotherapists work together with other health professionals including GP’s and occupational therapists to prevent falls. Physiotherapy can provide a comprehensive assessment to identify which falls risk factors have contributed to falls on an individual basis.
Common falls risk factors include:
- Medical conditions such as low blood pressure
- Leg or foot pain
- Muscle weakness of the legs or feet
- Altered sensation in the feet
- Impaired vision
- Reduced balance
Physiotherapy can address many of these factors through advice, education and exercise.
Exercise to prevent falls should focus on appropriate strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. Cardiovascular fitness should also be addressed. Functional exercise regimes have also been shown to reduce the occurrence of falls.