Spine Community News: Falls occur in 36% of individuals 65 years or older according to a 2-year study from 2010. Falls result in serious injury, spinal or hip fractures or death costing Medicare billions each year. This is especially true for individuals with osteoporosis where a fall increases the risk of hip fracture and mortality. Falls also result in increased anxiety and depression and reduced quality of life.
Doctors reviewed the medical literature on interventions to prevent falls in the elderly. Over 54 studies with 41,596 participants were studied. Among the therapies studies included exercise, exercise and vision assessment, exercise and vision assessments and therapy, multifactorial assessment and treatment, and calcium and vitamin D.
Exercises alone or in various combinations, along with the other listed treatments were helpful in decreasing the risk of falls. The benefits of each intervention are dependent on the patient and their associated problems. For example, calcium and vitamin D help individuals who are vitamin D deficient and osteoporotic. In regard to the type of exercise, it should be tailored to the skill level of the individual patient.
David Borenstein, MD
Executive Editor TheSpineCommunity.com
- Cigolle CT et al: The epidemiologic data on falls. 1998-2010: more older Americans report falling. JAMA Intern Med 2015:175:443-445
- Tricco AC et al: Comparisons of interventions for preventing falls in older adults: A systemic review and meta-analysis JAMA 2017:318:1687-1699