Fall Prevention is an important issue in our society today. Falls can lead to serious and fatal injuries. There are many measures that may help to reduce the risk of falls, and studies have shown tai chi is one of the most effective. Tai Chi and Fall Prevention are linked. A number of research studies show a significant reduction in recurrent falls when someone studies Tai Chi. The Centers of Disease Control recommends Tai Chi (as well as physical therapy) as a safe intervention for fall prevention, as well as the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), a New Zealand National Government Body,and also health departments in Australia.
One in three people over the age of 65 will fall within a given year. One in two over the age of 85 will fall. Tai Chi focuses on the principles of movement, posture, body awareness, weight transfer, breathing, and situational mindfulness to assist in preventing a fall.
So what is a fall, really? A fall is a loss of balance that leads to a collision with the ground, another obstacle, or another person. A fall can occur from a standing, seated, or lying down position. The majority of fall could have been prevented. The fear of falling increases the chance of falling by 60%! It has been shown that approximately 70% of falls occur in places where the person is familiar with the surroundings. We know that concussions and injuries are cumulative over the course of our lifetime. Every time we fall, we are adding to the damage of our bodies. Many falls are non-recoverable, in that, we may not fully recover from the injuries sustained in the fall. The truth is, everyone can fall: all ages, all body types, all physical capabilities, anyone.
- lack of exercise and lacking proper body mechanics
- vision – change in visibility, improper eyewear
- Unsafe environment – lighting, uneven floors or pavement, rugs, steps, rain, wet, ice, bathtubs, obstacles, extension cords, pets,
- illness or disease
- medication reactions
- refusing to modify lifestyles
- not aware of surroundings
- improper footwear or clothing
- climbing stairs, step stool or ladder
- getting out of bed
- lightheaded or lack of oxygen
- getting off the toilet
- physical limitations
- improper use of walking-assistance devices
- We have a lifetime of bad habits. We need to be honest about our habits and realize it will take awhile to change them.
- We have a lifetime of accumulated body damage that may or may not have healed properly.
- Pay attention all the time.
- Concentrate on walking heel-to-toe, and not flat-footed or shuffling the feet.
- When given a walking aid (crutch, walker, cane, etc.) ask for instruction on how to use it properly. Then follow the instructions.
- Generate momentum by moving your core, not by moving your head.
- We need to be thinking of not only preventing our own falls, but helping to prevent the falls of others.
- Overcome your fear of falling.
There are no miracles in fall prevention. We need to act pro-actively. Practice good posture, proper breathing, proper walking techniques, limited reaching, and good balance.
September 22nd is the first day of the season fall. It is also National Fall Prevention Day. So take some time to make yourself safe. The Tai Chi For Health Institute has a Tai Chi for Fall Prevention Program. Take a look at the information, including the studies, and start to make some changes. We can prevent falls for ourselves and others. Let us join together in not breaking our cups.