Can A Podiatrist Help You Prevent A Fall?

Can A Podiatrist Help You Prevent A Fall?

Here in New Zealand, falls are the most common cause of injuries in those aged over 65 years, and in children aged 0-14 years. In those aged over 65 years, 30-60% of people have a fall every year, and 10-20% of those end in hospitalisation or death.

These are some pretty powerful statistics already – and the numbers are only rising with the population of over 65 year-year-olds in New Zealand expected to double to 1.2 million by 2035. With falls currently accounting for 40% of ACC claims for those aged 65-69 years, and 60% in those aged over 80 years, we believe that there’s more that should be done to help prevent falls and preserve mobility and independence – and this is where podiatry can help.

Yes, Podiatrists Help With Falls Prevention

In older adults, many causes of falls are contributed to by:

  • Stiff joints in the feet and legs
  • Bony changes from osteoarthritis and other medical conditions or diseases
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Weak ligaments (like the ligaments around the ankle)
  • Feeling unstable on your feet
  • Problems with balance and coordination

These are all areas where we can help. We do this by performing an assessment and checking your falls risk by checking your gait, stability and more. Any problems we identify, we action in your treatment plan. 

Don’t worry – we’re not going to tell you that your only solution is to start an intensive exercise and rehab regime to strengthen your muscles, because we understand that everyone is in a different place with their lives, their mobility and their goals. Our team always works to understand your personal circumstances, and helps you achieve your goals while implementing medical best-practice guidelines that consider your well-being for the long-term.

This may be through using wearable supports like splints or braces, which can be custom-made from an impression of your feet to maximise your comfort and light materials that don’t weigh your feet down.  

Custom foot orthotics may also be a good solution to not only improve stability on the feet, assist your foot function but also offload any painful or stiff joints to help your comfort.

The right footwear both inside and outside of the home can also help improve stability, as well working to rehabilitate the muscles themselves where appropriate and safe to do so. The shoes you wear inside the home are more important than many people realise, with the most common place to fall being inside the home. 

Our goal is to help you maintain your mobility and independence for as long as you’d like to.

If You’ve Had A Fall, Your Risk For Another Fall Is Higher

If you or your family member has had a fall already, the chances of another fall is increased. With one out of five falls ending in a serious injury like a broken bone or head injury, it’s not a risk to take lightly. If a fall doesn’t end in an injury, it can leave a person afraid of falling, causing them to limit their daily movement and therefore increase their falls risk further if they grow weaker.

We highly recommend booking in with your podiatrist if you have had a fall, if you believe you may be at risk, or if you’re aged over 65 years. Podiatry care has been proven in studies to significantly prevent falls prevention – and we see it every week in our clinic

Falls In Children

Children are prone to falls for different reasons. With their bones, joints and muscles still developing, kids are more prone to tripping and falling, having developmental factors like knocked knees and in-toeing plays a role, and so does their immature balance, coordination and fine motor skills, which are still being fine tuned..

We also work with children to help them move well on their feet, prevent injuries, and prevent falls. This is done in similar ways to adults, except with a greater focus of correcting any alignment and postural issues in the feet and legs and correcting any muscle weakness or tightness. The work we do with children focuses on helping them stay healthy, happy and active for the years to come.

Remember Falls Are More Than Physical

When deciding whether to actively prevent falls, remember that for many people, falls are a lot more than physical harm or injury. There may be a significant impact on confidence, independence, the willingness to socialise or head outdoors, and ultimately a person’s mental and physical health – their quality of life.

Our podiatry team are experts in lower limb health, and we want to see you maximising your potential and living your life to the fullest. If you have any concerns about falls, want to actively work towards reducing your falls risk, or have previously had a fall and want to help prevent it from happening again, we’d love to work with you and help you achieve these goals.

Book your appointment online by clicking here, call us on (03) 972 2927, or drop by our Redwoodtown clinic in Blenheim.

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