Walking Can Be A Real Balancing Act: Identifying And Managing Falls

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Falls are prevalent, dangerous and costly. Every year, one-third to one-half of the population age 65 and over experience falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults and the leading cause of death in those over age 85. Five percent of falls lead to a fracture. Falls can cause more than 200,000 hip fractures yearly. The cost of direct care for hip fracture patients alone is over $7 billion a year.

Are falls a normal part of aging? No. Current research indicates that elderly falls are different than their healthy, age-matched counterparts.

Can you predict who will fall and who won’t? No, not with certainty. But it is possible to identify many of the individual risk factors that contribute to falls. Contrary to popular belief, aging is not necessarily the culprit of imbalance, though it can be a factor. At any age, certain diseases, impairments or medications can adversely affect our ability to control our balance and lead to falls. The following are some of those: Diseases and impairments which may contribute to falls include dizziness, head injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, diabetes, visual deficits and muscular injuries. Medications can also affect our ability to control our balance. Blood pressure drugs, diuretics, anti-depressants, sedatives, tranquilizers and sleeping pills may contribute to your complaint of unsteadiness.

Can people who fall, or are at risk of falling, be helped? The good news is yes. Many risk factors are quite amenable to rehabilitative treatment. The use of available sensory inputs can be enhanced, control of position and movement in space can be learned, limits of stability can be increased, ankle, hip and stepping strategies can be trained, range-of-motion, strength and endurance can be increased, etc. The risk factor that is reduced or eliminated reduces the risk for falls. Treatment plans should be based on individual problems identified by comprehensive evaluation.

Dr. Izzy and his staff are always available to answer your questions about hearing care. Feel free to visit our website at www.gardenstatehearing.com

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Dr. Kirsh has over 25 years of hearing care experience. Dr. Kirsh received a B.A. in Biopsychology from the University of Maryland, a Master’s of Education (Audiology) from the University of Virginia and a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with area of specialization in Audiology from the Union Institute (The Graduate School). Dr. Kirsh completed a fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, has multiple publications, and has received numerous continuing education awards from both ASHA and AAA. Dr. Kirsh is currently a Founder and Director for Audigy Group and has previously served on the Sonus Network advisory board. Dr. Kirsh’s wife, Shira Kirsh, is a Speech-Language Pathologist in private practice at Alliance Speech & Hearing Center (Howell, N.J., 732-942-7220)-an affiliate of GSHBC. Dr. Kirsh has two beautiful children, Melanie and Joseph.