Published on February 26, 2019

Open house Saturday: Learn to reduce your risk for falling

Fall Prevention with Genesis Physical Therapy

Did you know?

  • 1 in 4 adults age 65 or older will fall each year…
  • Each day, more than one older adult in Iowa dies from a fall…
  • Falls are the most common cause of brain injuries…
  • More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls.

Falling down and breaking bones doesn’t have to be a consequence of growing older. Building strength and balance can be your best ally in decreasing your risk for falls, says Chris Poston, physical therapist at Genesis Healthplex, Davenport.

She will be giving fall prevention tips on Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to noon at a physical therapy open house at Genesis HealthPlex, Davenport, 3200 West Kimberly Road, Davenport. Come visit, and get the chance to win an Apple Watch.

“The best way to prevent falls is to change as many of your risk factors that you can,” Poston says. “Have a conversation with your doctor, who along with a physical therapist, can assess your risk of falling.”

Risk factors for falling can include:

  • Taking multiple medications
  • A cluttered home
  • Improper lighting in the home
  • Leg weakness
  • Poor balance
  • Poor vision
  • Incontinence
  • Improper footwear

Poston recommends attending a fall prevention class, such as STEPPING ON, or having a conversation with your doctor about seeing a physical therapist for a fall prevention program.

“Current research shows that for optimal fall prevention, you should focus on having a thorough review of your medications with your doctor, improving strength and balance through physical therapy or self-directed exercise, and reducing the hazards in your home,” says Poston, who specializes in fall prevention and vestibular conditions (vertigo and dizziness caused by the inner ear.) “A physical therapist can provide you with a home hazard checklist for you to make your home environment safer.”

Physical therapy also can help improve your leg strength and balance. Do you have to use your hands to rise from a chair or toilet or have difficulty climbing stairs? Chances are you would benefit from strengthening exercises with a physical therapist’s direction, Poston says.

Also, if you notice you are hanging onto walls or furniture while you walk, or you are "weaving" when you walk, you will benefit from balance exercises. “When you see a physical therapist for an evaluation for balance, there’s a thorough examination of leg strength, balance, flexibility, and walking,” Poston says. “We then set up a plan to improve these areas to reduce your risk of falling.”

Physical therapy can also help with symptoms of dizziness with movement that increase your risk of falling.

Poston concludes, “You are never too old to improve your strength and balance. The research is very strong that you can gain strength at any age, as long as you exercise three times per week. These exercises do not have to be strenuous. You can also improve balance at any age, as long as you challenge it daily through exercise or activity.

Fall prevention class begins April 9

STEPPING ON is a seven-week community-based fall prevention class that incorporates balance and strengthening exercises with education on vision, proper-fitting footwear, osteoporosis, medications, home environment, walking outside and in poor weather conditions. Attending this class is shown to reduce risk of falling by 31 percent. The next class begins April 9. Call 563-421-0300 for more information.

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