Falls are the main cause of morbidity and disability in the elderly. More than one-third of persons 65 years of age or older fall each year, and in half of such cases, the falls are recurrent. The risk doubles or triples in the presence of cognitive impairment or history of previous falls.
Reducing the risk of a fall has a few factors to it, the balance being a major one. In addition, the ability of your brain to recognize where your limbs are in space (proprioception is the technical term for those who are interested).
An interesting study demonstrated improved stepping reaction time and ankle joint position awareness following 12 weeks of chiropractic care. Although this is only one study, it does show improvements in factors linked with falls risk and stability.
It’s noteworthy that the participants in this study were all in their mid-sixties and older. You are never too young or too old to benefit from utilizing chiropractic care to improve the function of your nervous system and spine!
Gait is the process by which a movement occurs through periods of unloading and loading of our limbs. Gait includes all forms of locomotion; running, hopping, skipping, and cycling. However, walking is the most used form of gait. It provides us with independence for many of our activities of daily living. A normal gait requires the body to co-ordinate with other organs such as our ears, eyes, brain, muscles, and sensory nerves. When one of these areas is lacking, difficulty in performing a normal gait may arise.
There is a variety of research concerning traumatic injuries in the elderly population. Ages range from 55 – 80 years of age. A leading cause of injury in the geriatric population is falling.
Gait and the elderly population
According to the New Zealand ACC statistics in 2016, there were 138 304 new claims in people aged 65 years and older. As a result, consequences from these falls may lead to restrictions in their activities of daily living. And finally a loss of independence.
Common symptoms associated with gait are difficulty walking, trouble with balance, and unsteadiness. These gait and balance problems can come temporarily through trauma, injury, inflammation, and pain.
According to recent research, fall risks are a concern for morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Falls play a very significant role in the causes of death, injury, and loss of quality of life. Falls account for more than 80% of injury-related hospital expenses in adults over 65 years old. As a result, every year, one-third of the community elderly’s have more than one fall. Falls happen when an individual is unable to maintain the center of gravity within the base of support provided by their feet.
The research has identified many risk factors that increase the risk of falls in elderly patients. These risk factors include age, lower limb disorders, and balance disorders. If there is a combination of these risks present, the chance of falling may increase to up to 80% per year.
How can chiropractic help?
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on improving neuromuscular dysfunction. Chiropractors look after the nervous system and the spine by correcting Vertebral Subluxations.
Vertebral Subluxation is described as an interference with the normal function of the nervous system. These vertebral subluxations can come from any aspect of an individual’s life such as stress, trauma, or chemical imbalances. They are the underlying causes of many health problems including gait and balance. A vertebral subluxation is defined as a joint in the spine that is not moving correctly, and that is negatively impacting health and well-being.
Research has shown that an adjustment to the spine increases joint function and contraction of muscles around the area. It gives strength and stability to the spine. Ultimately chiropractic adjustments can help the elderly be less prone to injury due to falls.