Myth # 1: Falling happens to other people, not to me.
Reality: Many people think, "It won't happen to me." But the truth is 1 and 4 older adults fall every year in the US
Myth #2: Falling is something normal and happens as you get older.
Reality: Falling is not a part of aging. Strength and balance exercises, managing your medications, having your vision checked and making your living environment safer are all steps you can take to prevent a fall.
Myth#3: If I limited my activity, I will fall..
Reality: Some people believe that the best way to prevent falls is to stay at home and limit activity. Not true. Performing physical activities will actually help your stay independent, as your strength and range of motion benefit from remaining active. Social activities are also good for your overall health.
Myth# 4: As long as I stay home, I can avoid falling..
Reality: Over half of all falls take place at home. Inspect your home for fall risks. Fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter, throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, and nonslip paint on outdoor steps.
Myth # 5: Muscle strength and flexibility can't be regained.
Reality: While we do lose muscles as we age, exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. It's never too late to start an exercise program. If you've been of "couch potato" your whole life, becoming active now will benefit in many ways–including protection from falls.
Myth # 6: Taking medication doesn't increase my risk of falling.
Reality. Taking any medication increased to risk of falling. Medications affect people in many different ways and can sometimes make you dizzy or sleepy. He careful in starting a new medication. Dr. health care provider about potential side effects or interventions of her medications.
Myth# 7: I don't need to get my vision checked every year.
Reality: Vision is not acute risk factor for falls. Aging is associated with some forms of visual loss that increased risk of falling's injury. He reports vision problems are more than twice as likely to fall as those without vision impairments. Checked at least once per year and update your eyeglasses. For those with low vision there are programs and assistive devices that can help. Ask an optometrist for referral.
Myth# 8: Using a walker or cane will make me more dependent.
Reality: Walking aids are very important in helping many older adults maintain or improve their mobility. However, make sure that you use these devices safely. Your physical therapist fit the walker or cane to you and instruct you in its safe use
Myth #9: I don't need to talk to family members or my health care provider if I'm concerned about my risk of falling. I don't want to alarm them, and I want to keep my independence.
Reality: Fall prevention is a team effort. Bring up with your doctor, family, and anyone else who is in a position to help. They want to help you maintain your mobility and reduce your risk of falling.
Myth #10: I don't need to talk to my parent, spouse, or other older adult if I'm concerned about the risk of falling. It will hurt their feelings, and its none of my business.
Reality: Let them know about your concerns and offer support to help them maintain the highest degree of independence possible. There are many things you can do, including removing hazards in the home, finding a fall prevention program in the community, setting up a vision examination or consulting with Core Matrix Physical Therapy.
Vestibular disorders are quite prevalent in the population and are one of the biggest reasons that someone goes to the ER. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is responsible for balance and knowing where the body is in space. If the vestibular system is not fully intact then quite often patients will complain of dizziness and possibly room spinning. Patients may also complain of difficulty balancing while walking or going up stairs and can have symptoms of nausea.
One of the most frequent causes of dizziness is called BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. In the vestibular system in the inner ear there is a small organ called the utricle. There are normally crystals located inside the utricle. The problem is when the calcium crystals travel out of the utricle and fall into one of the semi-circular canals. These canals sense movement and rotation such as when you turn your head, or lay down. When the crystals travel into the canal they give the body the sense that it is spinning or moving. Sometimes this recovers on its own, however frequently a physical therapist or physician can provide a treatment which helps moves the crystals back where they should be in the utricle.
Diagnosis and treatment of BPPV is very quick and generally with several tests a PT can tell if the crystals are in one of the semicircular canals. Depending on the direction of eye movements we can tell specifically which canal the crystals are in. Diagnosis is provided by performing a Dix-Hallpike maneuver which consists of a patient lying down and letting their head sink off the table, with their head slightly turned. If it is BPPV the patient will feel room spinning dizziness, which generally lasts 10-45 seconds. If it is positive we go right into the treatment which frequently is the Epley maneuver. While the head is kept down against the table, the head is slowly turned to the other side. Then the patient will roll on their side and tuck their chin to their sternum. Finally we sit up. All of the movements are very slow and controlled with the therapist controlling the patients head the entire time. So all the patient needs to do is relax!
The good news is, if the diagnosis is BPPV these treatment techniques are very highly successful! The literature states that greater than 90% of patients within 2-3 treatment sessions will be cleared of the BPPV. Sometimes this completely fixes the problem, and the patient isn’t dizzy anymore. Other times, especially if the patient has had BPPV for a while, they may require some exercises to “retrain and tune up” the vestibular system.
Frequently patients will ask me, what causes this? That’s a great question! There are some factors that make BPPV more likely to occur than others. The common ones are being dehydrated, having low Vitamin D levels, uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes, and finally a blow to the head such as a car accident or fall. More common than not however there is an unknown cause and it just happened. I also get asked, so what can I do to prevent this from happening again, or do I need to avoid any certain movements? The answer is no, from several research studies there is no benefit to avoid laying on that side, going to the hairdresser and laying back, or restricting motions. So I always tell patients, just live your life, don’t limit yourself because you are trying to avoid it from happening again. Patients will ask if they should avoid taking anti-vertigo medications on that day. If it is BPPV, anti-vertigo medication will not impair our ability to make our diagnosis and will not eliminate dizziness, but it may suppress nausea and make the treatment more comfortable so I recommend if patients are nauseous to take the medication before coming in.
At Core Matrix Physical Therapy we frequently treat patients for symptoms of dizziness or vertigo, including treating for BPPV. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you have any symptoms of dizziness that you would like us to evaluate
We help people who experience dizziness, nausea and fearful of falling in Western New York reclaim their independence so that they can attend their favorite Yoga class, take leisurely walks without “feeling funny” and get out of bed safely without the room spinning.
Vestibular, Balance and Neck Specialist