South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday August 11, 2020
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January 2005 - Volume 1 - Issue 6
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Innovative Balance and Fall Prevention Approach at NSU

Falls are a significant concern for older adults. According to research, each year 30 percent of those over age 65 and 40 percent of people over age 80 fall. Approximately 20 percent of seniors who fall need medical attention, and 10 percent of falls result in a fracture. Falls may cause disability in older adults. But it is not just the falls that are disabling; the fear of falling can prevent someone from fully enjoying an active life. The fear of falling is the most commonly reported fear among seniors living in the community. More than half of older populations limit their activities because they have a fear of falling.

Why are older people more susceptible to falling than younger adults? Falls occur for a variety of reasons, and unfortunately, many of these reasons become more prevalent as we age. Poor vision, muscle weakness, slower reflexes and loss of sensitivity in the feet can lead to a loss in balance. These causes can be part of the normal aging process, such as decreased vision; or they can occur with diseases that are occur more often with seniors, such as diabetes, macular degeneration, etc.

Another common cause of falls is the bodyís response to medications. The side effects of many commonly used medications include both dizziness and postural hypotension. Because seniors citizens can routinely be placed on four or more medications, they are at a greater risk of having dizziness. Vertigo is another common cause of falling that can occur as a result of changes in the inner ear with age. Finally, the physical environment also plays a role in falls. It has been estimated that 40 percent of all falls are caused by environmental factors such as wet floors, dimly lit rooms, electrical cords or clutter, throw rugs, high heels or slip-on shoes.

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) has created a unique clinic designed to address the issue of falls and balance loss. NSUís Interdisciplinary Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic was designed to simplify and accelerate the process of establishing why a person is having balance or fall problems. Professionals from several disciplines, including geriatric medicine, physical therapy, audiology, occupational therapy and psychology work together Ė simultaneously -- to determine the possible cause(s) for the balance loss. This streamlined approach provides the client with valuable recommendations of appropriate tests and/or a course of treatment that is then supplied to the personís primary care physician for action. The interdisciplinary nature of this program provides exceptional care, in a single location.

According to Dr. Robert Oller, CEO of NSUís Health Care Centers, "Our Interdisciplinary Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic is one of only a few in South Florida to address this issue directly, and it is the only such program in a university environment."

For more information on NSUís Interdisciplinary Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic, please call (954) 262-4149.
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