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Can Chiropractic Care Help Prevent Falls?

While chiropractic care has benefits for all people, the benefits to seniors can be of particular importance.

Regular Chiropractic Care Can Provide Important Benefits for Seniors

Chiropractic care increases balance and coordination: As we age, balance and coordination becomes more difficult. Studies have shown that the receptors located in the joints of the upper cervical spine are largely responsible for providing the brain with essential information important for balance and coordination. Research has also shown that injury to these “neck” receptors is a significant cause of balance and coordination problems in humans.

Studies have shown that chiropractic care can help restore balance and coordination by stimulating the joint receptors  in the cervical spine. This stimulation is thought to restore or normalize joint receptor functioning which leads to improvements in balance and coordination.

Chiropractic care can decrease injuries, including falls: Unlike when a child or athlete falls, an older person who falls is more susceptible to suffer significant injuries.

Injuries as a result of falls are a particular risk to seniors and one of the major causes of injury in the elderly:

  • Responsible for 90% of the 850,000 bone fractures which occur annually among Americans past the age of 65
  • In people over the age of 65 account for over 80% of injury related hospital admissions and they are the leading cause of accidental death
  • New Zealand: 230 deaths per year and Australia = 1000 deaths per year
  • One third of community dwelling older adults experiences one or more falls each year
  • Australia: Related health care costs estimated to be as high as $4,500,000,000 annually
  • USA: Related health-care costs as much as $30,000,000,000 annually

A report recently published on seniors’ falls in Canada by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) asserted that seniors who fall are fall are ten times more likely to be hospitalized and eight times more likely to die than are children who fall. In addition, recovery from a fall-related injury is often prolonged or incomplete, which in turn leads to a worsening of fall-related risk factors such as de-conditioning due to being sedentary.

The report says that chiropractors have an important part to play with respect to fall prevention. Not only can practitioners champion many of the interventions recommended (home safety checklists, physical activity), but some experts also suggest that chiropractic care, especially spinal manipulative therapy contributes to decreasing the risk of falls among seniors as well. Although there is at yet little medical evidence for such a contribution, there are a few studies which serve as examples of this important research direction.

The chiropractic profession in Canada has taken a leadership role in the area of fall prevention among seniors by developing a falls prevention program targeted toward both older patients and chiropractors themselves. Called The Best Foot Forward: Don’t Let A Fall Get You Down, this fall prevention program was developed in 2008 for the Canadian Chiropractic Association.

The Best Foot Forward Program was divided into two broad sections. The first section including epidemiological information, risk factors, a quiz a person could take to determine his or her risk of falling and a home safety checklist.  Please email Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic at info@surreywellness.com to receive a copy of the checklist.

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