Fall prevention programs typically focus on people over 65 years old. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention show that falls in this population are a serious issue: 1 in 4 falls every year, and it’s the leading cause of trauma, injury, and death for this age group.
But a new study that compared data from nearly 20,000 people living in Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands suggests that we might be focussing in the wrong place.
The study discovered there is a statistically significant number of falls in middle age, particularly for women, which is much earlier than previously thought. The authors suggest that waiting until people are over 65 may reduce the effectiveness of fall prevention programs, whereas if people could be targeted in middle age to assess risk factors for falling and start taking preventive action, this could have a very significant effect on reducing falls later in life.
The truth is that ‘feeling’ your fall risk is notoriously difficult. Rather like trying to estimate blood pressure before the invention of the blood pressure cuff, it may be possible to tell when your balance is very poor, but for most people, the danger is invisible until they experience that catastrophic fall.
Having Good Balance Protects Against Falling
ZIBRIO has been studying falls in humans for over 15 years and while it’s possible for anyone to fall, given enough of a push, we know there is a very strong link between the likelihood of falling and your postural control, or your ability to keep your body stable and upright.
Good balance relies on several systems working well together. It can also be easily improved with simple balance exercises, performed regularly.
Up until now, measuring postural control has been difficult and time-consuming. It relies on a battery of functional tests in a number of different tasks (for example, standing on one leg, walking on a special treadmill, reaching, walking while counting backward in 3s from 100, and so on). These tests require an experienced operator and take place usually in a specialist clinic, putting them out of reach of anyone who is unaware they may have a problem.
The ZIBRIO SmartScale’s unique algorithm analyzes the tiny sway patterns your body makes when standing still and gives a numerical score for your balance ability, which also indicates how likely it is that you may fall at some point in the next year. The test takes just 60 seconds.
So don’t wait until you retire to pay attention to your balance. Start now, however old you are, by incorporating balance exercises into your routine. And check in with your postural control by measuring it. Your body will thank you for it.