In our younger years, a fall can result in mere bruises or soreness. But as we age, factors such as muscle weakness and changes in joint strength can contribute to a loss of balance overall. Combined with the loss of bone density over time, this makes falls increasingly common and dangerous, in our older years.
Falls are a major health issue in the community with around 30% of adults over 65 experiencing at least one fall per year. This is set to increase as Australia’s population ages with the proportion of people aged over 65 predicted to increase from 14% (3 million people) in 2010 to 23% (8.1 million people) in 2050 (Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society).
Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries including superficial cuts and abrasions, bruises, and sprains. Fall injuries that require hospitalisation usually involve the hip and femur, head, neck, and shoulder, with fractures being the most common injury. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare).
Falls also unfortunately account for 40% of injury-related deaths. Depending on the population under study, between 22-60% of older people suffer injuries from falls, 10-15% suffer serious injuries, 2-6% suffer fractures and 0.2-1.5% suffer hip fractures.
Limited physical activity:
Research shows that many people who have experienced a fall, develop a fear of falling, which can cause them to limit their activity and that accelerates their risk of falling again. The risk of falling again doubles after the first incident.
Reduced Quality of Life:
This leads to trepidation and concern about balance, particularly the age group of 65 – 70 year old. This fear of falling can also impact an older person’s willingness or ability to engage in social activities. This can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and helplessness and in some cases the fear of loss of independence.
In terms of morbidity and mortality, the most serious and costly of these fall-related injuries is fracture of the hip. Elderly people recover slowly from hip fractures and are vulnerable to post-operative and bed rest complications. In around 25% cases, hip fractures result in death and of those who survive, around one third of them never regain complete mobility.
Prevention is key: “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”
So, what can we do about it? We want the community to be confident in their movement, their day to day activities and enjoy what life has to offer. By being proactive towards the components of fracture prevention we can assist individuals, minimising their fear of the fall.
Fracture prevention includes focusing on and improving bone density, strength of the musculoskeletal system and balance. All components that typically decline with age. Fortunately, in 2021, research shows what degenerates can regenerate, and it is a key focus for all OsteoStrong centres, their members, and the wider community.
Working on balance (including gait, visual field changes and mobility), strength and bone density (with out Spectrum system) at an individual level makes it the reason why our members see the incredible changes, ultimately reducing their fracture risk. We also love a good chat, connecting with our members at a personal level, decreasing any potential feelings of isolation, depression, and helplessness and in some cases the fear of loss of independence.
Combined, the physical, financial, and emotional costs of a fall make this often overlooked health event a critical public health issue.
However, prevention is possible and OsteoStrong makes it easier than ever.