Prevention of Fall-related Injuries
Prevention of injuries is the ongoing science of identifying risk factors, causes, mechanisms and specific populations at risk. Evaluating and analyzing these statistical risk factors allow experts to develop specialized programs to help reduce the possibility of an injury occurring.
As an example, a statistical analysis of female college athlete injuries identified a large number of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries as compared to male athletes. Pre-competition preventive exercise programs have helped reduce the risk. More recently several professional associations such as the NFL, CFL and NHL have identified that concussions are becoming more and more frequent. Each association has taken the necessary steps with rule changes, awareness programs, better concussion management and equipment enhancement to help reduce the risk to players.
We don’t often associate ourselves to be at risk of an injury. One such injury that occurs often, especially among the elderly, is falls. It is said that 1 in 3 elderly people will experience a fall a year. Unfortunately, the injuries associated are usually debilitating, with a loss of independence resulting in increased demand for aid and care. The risk factors identified include muscle weakness, balance, gait or stability problems, multiple drug therapy, decreased mental awareness, decreased vision, vertigo and cardiac problems.
Are falls preventable? Not all falls can be prevented, but by identifying those at risk, we can help reduce that risk. Continued research into specialized programs, exercise tools and evaluation has shown some very positive results. Regular exercise plays an important role in the prevention of falls. A recent addition to the exercise world is the use of Vibration Plate exercise machines. Recent research has found that it helps maintain, develop and improve balance in the elderly. Strength training, Tai Chi and regular walking have also been identified as ways to help prevent falls.
The key component here is education and identifying those at risk. A fall can cause severe anguish, lifestyle change and loss of independence. Despite the several risk factors that have been identified (including muscle weakness, stability, gait and balance problems), research into the prevention and the development of specialized programs, like the one offered at some Action Sport Physio clinics, will help reduce the risk and help those at risk reduce their chances of a fall.