Monday, April 11, 2011


Tai Chi
´╗┐Help me, I think I'm falling
- Joni Mitchell, lyrics from "Help Me"
Ask an average person, "What is the most likely dangerous thing that may happen to you?" You may get answers like hit by lightning, hit by a car, shot by a gun, etc. What you are not likely to hear is "falling."

The Dept. of Health for New York State writes,
In NYS fall-related injuries are the leading cause of injury hospitalizations among children ages 0-14 and adults 25 years and older. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for those 45 years and older. Falls can result in serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or fractures. There is also a heavy financial burden to fall-related injuries with a yearly cost of $1.3 billion in New York State for hospitalizations alone.
My father's aunt had an amazing memory and was a great story teller well into her 90's. But one night she fell in her assisted living apartment and was never the same again mentally. The Dept of Health is spot on with, "Fall-related injuries in older adults often lead to hospitalizations beginning the downward spiral that can result in long-term disability or death." In a fall the brain can be bruised and damaged when it hits the skull with a smack. Nearly twenty years ago my brother-in-law's job was to hit lab rats on the head and then measure the resulting brain damage using a MRI. The goal was to discover how well brain damage could be seen in an MRI because you really don't want to open up the skull to find out the status of the brain after an injury.

Fortunately there are measures you can take to make falls less likely.

For Children:
  • Use child safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs
  • Never leave an infant unattended on a table, bed or other elevated surface
  • Use safety straps to secure your child in strollers, shopping carts and infant carriers
  • Place your child in a stationary play-station rather than a mobile walker
  • Playground surfaces should consist of shredded rubber, fiber mulch, or fine sand and extend 12 inches deep and 6 feet around equipment to reduce the severity of falls.
For Adults:
  • Install handrails on stairways and remove loose rugs or other clutter
  • Use ample lighting throughout the home. Install illuminated light switches at the top and bottom of stairs, and night lights in the bathrooms.
  • Use a step-stool and grab bar to reach objects on high shelves. Don't stand on stairs, buckets, or other objects to reach something!
  • Use non-slip bath mats in the shower and tub
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles
  • Talk to your health care provider about gait, balance, and strength training.
Bottom Line

The last item in the list is interesting. I found that Tai Chi greatly improved my sense of balance and has saved me from some slip and falls. Perhaps Yoga can do the same to make you more in tune with your body and strengthen it for balance. Try standing on one foot for 30 seconds. (But be careful how and where you do this - you will fall eventually.) Learn how to fall safely. Do squats to strengthen the legs and improve balance as your body changes position.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home