Accessibility View Close toolbar

3517 Marconi AvenueSuite 102

Sacramento, CA 95821 US

(916) 485-5433

Open mobile navigation

Fall Prevention For Seniors

Sacramento Chiropractor says, "Improve Your Balancing Act to Avoid Falls."
Gregg C. Anderson, D.C.

    Some of the most heartbreaking personal disasters I hear as a Sacramento chiropractor are becoming far too common.  Sadder still, is that while much can be done to prevent them, too few people do.

    Disabling hip fractures, facial injuries, subdural hematomas, concussions and other injuries that occur when someone falls can be devastating.  One bad fall can often literally turn your life upside down and you may never return to independent living.  In fact, only 50% of folks who suffer hip fractures ever make it home again. 

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, injuries are the sixth leading cause of death in adults of 65 years of age or more and falls are the leading cause of such injuries. In the United States, one of every three persons age 65 and older falls each year. Among older adults, falls are actually the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

    It appears that our cultures general adaptation to a sedentary lifestyle during the past century is one of the causes responsible for the steep rise in hip fracture incidence observed in most Western countries during the last 5 decades.  From what I have learned and seen in practice as Sacramento chiropractor, is that if you want to reduce disability, prevent injuries and limit dependence upon others as you age, you've got to keep moving; rocking, walking, swimming, dancing, bouncing or whatever it takes!  If you stop moving, you stop living.  I guess the reverse is true too.  Motion is life. 

    Basic truths of human physiology point to the realities of the cliché, "use it or lose it."  Perhaps that would have been a bit more tantalizing title for this column! What happens when we age is that the joints of our bodies often become less and less able to move.  This is due to the wear and tear from a lifetime of injuries, small and large, as well as arthritis, scar tissue, and a general weakening of various muscles, particularly the legs. 

    Basic truths of physiology also reveal the fact that the central nervous system (CNS) is the master control system of the body.  Our brains are like supercomputers that are constantly receiving and processing data input from the various nerve receptors in the body and then sending out appropriate responses to ensure the proper maintenance and control of our lives.  It is an amazing process.  For example, the cerebellum, a large portion in the posterior the brain devoted to balance and coordination has billions of nerve cells.  One single cell may reach out and touch as many as 100,000 other cells to control the delicate and precise pathways that allow us to walk, talk, shop, and chew gum at the same time!

    The greatest input to the brain and CNS comes from receptors in and around the joints of the body.  They have cool names like golgi tendon organs, muscle spindles and joint mechanoreceptors.  When our muscles move our bones, they tell the CNS all about it.  This communication is called proprioception.  It's a big word for "joint position sense." 

    Your CNS needs a steady stream of accurate information about the relative position of all the joints in the body if it is to successfully manage your coordination, balance and delicate movements.  This steady stream of data is reduced in both quantity and accuracy in the presence of tissue injury, inflammation, pain, loss of motion, or degeneration.  For example a sprained ankle has torn ligaments, strained muscles, swelling, pain and simply cannot work properly.  It's data input to the CNS is distorted.

    Studies with seniors have demonstrated that mild defects in joints, particularly the neck area, impair the function of their joint mechanoreceptors.  With the resulting limited proprioception, their body positioning in space is impeded and they must rely on vision to know the location of a limb.  Heaven forbid, their eyes go bad too!  To compensate for the loss of proprioception, their feet are kept wider apart than usual and their steps become irregular and uneven in length.  As impairment in joint function increases, it becomes impossible for them to compensate, making falling a major risk. 

    Doctors of chiropractic are experts at detecting joints that are not functioning normally and then using what are called adjustments to restore as much as possible.  Neurologically, adjustments stimulate an enormous amount of joint mechanoreceptors to their maximum frequency of input to the CNS, thereby normalizing proprioception.

    The best way to ensure good proprioception, enjoy good balance and coordination and prevent disability or even severe injury from falling, is by restoring and maintaining good joint function.  Other strategies to prevent falls among older adults include exercises to improve strength, balance, and flexibility, reviewing of medications that may affect balance; and home modifications that reduce fall hazards such as installing grab bars, improving lighting, and removing items that may cause tripping.

    Lastly, I suggest you get checked and adjusted as necessary.  Then you must use the better functioning joints frequently and vigorously; rocking, walking, tai chi, swimming, dancing… use your imagination.  Use it or lose it!  Have a wonderful month of stimulating your joint mechanoreceptors and CNS.   

Copyright, Gregg C. Anderson, D.C. 2008

Sacramento Chiropractor / Fall Prevention

To find out more, use the form below, or call us at: (916) 485-5433

Office Hours

Monday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

2:30 pm-5:30 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

2:30 pm-5:30 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

2:30 pm-5:30 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

2:30 pm-5:30 pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Relationship with Self

    The relationship you have with yourself and the journey to self-understanding is an important part of your overall wellness. ...

    Read More
  • Indoor Activities and Exercises

    Are you preparing for the winter months or looking for exercises to do when you can't make it to the gym? Follow these exercises to maintain a healthy fitness routine. ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Stress - Take a Deep Breath

    Most of us pay little attention, if any, to the daily functioning of our many physiological systems. Our hearts beat, our digestive systems digest, and our various hormones, such as those deriving from the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and pancreas, do what they do. It's all good... until it's not. ...

    Read More
  • Proper Overindulgence Over the Holidays

    Proper Overindulgence Over The Holidays The term "overindulgence" is probably best assessed as a red flag, especially with respect to consistent overconsumption of high-calorie comfort food and desserts during the holiday season. An overall healthier perspective could be described as "indulgence" regarding ...

    Read More
  • The 5 Senses

    The 5 Senses The five senses, that is, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell, provide us with necessary information regarding the world around us.1 These precious capabilities enable us to navigate our environment with seemingly instantaneous feedback with reference to our actions and ...

    Read More
  • The Benefits of Sleep for Adults

    Obtaining sufficient restful sleep is an essential requirement for optimal human productivity. Such a practice is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, which includes a nutritious diet, regular vigorous exercise, and a positive mental attitude. How much sleep one needs varies from person to person. ...

    Read More
  • Back to School and Mental Wellness

    Summer is a subjectively fleeting season and school days are upon us once again. For children, this bittersweet time marks the completion of a period of relative freedom and the beginning of a new set of responsibilities. For adults, the onset of late summer and early fall signals yet another turn of ...

    Read More
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries

    A repetitive motion injury (or overuse injury) involves doing an action over and over again, as with a baseball pitcher throwing a baseball, a tennis player hitting a tennis ball, typing at a computer keyboard, and most notoriously, typing with your thumbs on the tiny keypad of your phone. It may be ...

    Read More
  • Left-Handers Day

    Left-Handers Day Left-Handers Day, celebrated on August 15th, was launched in 1992 by the Left-Handers Club, an organization based in the United Kingdom. Since then, Left-Handers Day has become a worldwide event and social media phenomenon. Around the world, approximately one in ten persons is left-handed. ...

    Read More
  • Peak Experiences

    Peak Experiences The American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau roamed far and wide over the hills and mountains of his native Massachusetts and neighboring New Hampshire. In his masterwork, "Walden," Thoreau famously stated that we must "reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles