Physios welcome falls prevention focus

4 Apr 2013 | Reducing Harm from Falls

Physiotherapy New Zealand (PNZ) is welcoming a national focus on falls prevention by the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

The Commission is supporting district health boards and others to highlight falls prevention in a month-long promotion called April Falls. Falls are the leading cause of hospitalisation, and one of the top three leading causes of death by injury in New Zealand.

PNZ President Gill Stotter says physios are an essential part of fall prevention and treatment after a fall.

"The prevention of falls in hospitals is essential for helping reduce potential harm to patients. However, physios also play an important role in preventing falls, before people end up in hospital," says Ms Stotter.

"The majority of falls happen at home or in the community so simple steps taken to prevent falls in this environment will have a big impact."

"Those over 65 have a higher risk of falling, often because of decreased balance and strength, poor eyesight or even the medicines they're taking. A physio can work with them to improve strength and balance and discuss ways to continue being active. Some physios will visit the home to assess any risks."

"If you are afraid of falling, or have a relative that is, then remember there are interventions that can help. Research shows group and home based exercise programmes, and home safety interventions reduce both the rate of falls and the risk of falling, so talk to a health professional about how this could help you."

PNZ has developed a free consumer leaflet - Physiotherapy Works: Falls Prevention, available on their website.

Five tips for fall prevention:

  1. Keep exercising - improving your balance and strength is important for reducing falls. See a physio for a specific exercise programme if necessary. Exercises like Tai Chi can also be very beneficial.
  2. Check your lighting - especially from your bedroom to the bathroom at night, consider stronger lighting to help you see a little better.
  3. Eliminate hazards from the home - get rid of rugs or other clutter that could be easily tripped over. If you're worried about slipping in the bathroom or shower then consider non-slip mats. 
  4. Review your medications - certain medications can cause dizziness which can result in a fall. Always review any medications with your doctor or pharmacist and talk over the side effects.
  5. Check your footwear - ensure that your shoes have good grip and a low heel to support your feet on the ground.

Last updated 04/04/2013