Kimberly Smith is the Assistant Manager of Clinical Programs, IL Regional Coordinator – Vestibular/Concussion Program
If you or someone you know has fallen, you are not alone. Balance quickly diminishes after the mid-50s, increasing the risk for falls and other adverse health outcomes. According to the National Institute on Aging, 1 in 3 individuals will suffer a fall each year. The good news is it is never too late to improve your balance and fitness to decrease these risks. This may be as simple as making minor changes, just a few minutes a day, and using your local Physical Therapist as a resource! The pandemic has not helped reduce the falls problem, as most of the population 65 and older became stationary, less active, and was not challenging their bodies to the full potential. As part of Falls Prevention Awareness Month this September, we would like to highlight the importance of early detection and prevention for yourself or a loved one.
With advancements in technology, detecting a fall is easier than ever! Apple Watches have been able to detect a fall for some time, a feature automatically added for anyone 55 years and older. Emergency medical response teams may even be called based on one’s movement, or lack thereof, after the impact or fall. However, the latest feature – Walking Steadiness – available on the Apple iOS 15 update now allows the phone to send you a notification related to the steadiness of your walking. This update can help recognize your risk for falls before they happen.
Balance is observed in many aspects of life. An elite running back, a waitress, and even Grandma Sally all need good balance. A running back uses balance to stay on his feet and avoid defenders, whereas a waitress uses balance to carry food and weave in between guests. Grandma Sally uses her balance to navigate the grocery store or to walk to her mailbox. Balance plays a crucial role in avoiding falling and completing tasks throughout the day.