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Program - The Risk and Prevention of Falls In The Elderly

Arturo Valle is a native of Escondido, who grew up and attended schools locally.  He was the first in his family to attend College and graduate.  As a high school student, he received the nomination for 2 Vocational Awards, in 1998.  He graduated from San Diego State with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, and then from USC with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy.  He has since obtained multiple certificates in Strength and Conditioning, and is a Graduate Fellow.  He coaches Youth Soccer, and was himself a competitive soccer player.  He lives in Escondido with his wife and three sons.

Among those over 65years of age, one out of every four people will fall, and less than half will tell their doctor.  His goal is to educate all Over-65 Years of age people on Fall Prevention and Risk Assessment.  Falls represent a serious threat to quality of life.  Also, a resultant fear of falling leads to limitations on activity.  One in five falls cause injuries.  The statistics are sobering, with 95% of hip fractures being caused by falling. 

The consequences of falls range from mortality (10-20% result in death within one year); to morbidity, such as fractures, soft tissue injuries, head trauma and injuries, joint dislocations, loss of confidence and fear of falling, and restricted activities.  The trend in the death rate from falling is a significantly increasing numbers of deaths. 

He outlined the main causes of falls as being divided between two categories: extrinsic factors v. intrinsic factors.  The majority of falls (60%) occur in our own homes, and 30% occur in public places. 

Intrinsic factors range from age over 65 years, low mobility and fragility, limited activities of daily living, poor vision and vestibular deficiencies, poor gait and balance, not using assistance devices such as a cane, cognitive impairment or dementia, chronic illnesses, psychoactive medications, and heavy drinking. 

Extrinsic factors range from “polypharmacy” defined as using more than four prescription medicines; home hazards such as lack of a grab bar in the bathroom, poor lighting, loose rugs, clutter and loose cables and wiring.  Also to blame is poor footwear, lacking grip and support, and uneven sidewalks. 

A Physical Therapist practice can carry out an assessment of your risk factors.  There are four distinct balance tests, and different systems reviews, such as testing hearing and vision, and foot disabilities. 

In conclusion, Arturo focused on personal prevention and intervention strategies:

-Starting with Home Safety, assess your own home environment.  To check your own Home’s safety profile, Arturo recommended the Center for Disease Control’s website Check for Safety List, at www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/check_for_safety_brochure-a.pdf.

-Balance and Strength exercises

-Healthy Lifestyles, such as working out,

-Review your medications with your MD

-Use assistive devices in the home and mobility aids

-Get a fall risk assessment.

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