How to avoid falls
A local physical therapist visited Ashe Services for Aging on Wednesday to demonstrate techniques to seniors, instructing them how to move in order to prevent falls.
“We came here once before, about a month ago, and everybody seemed to be responsive to the presentation,” said Clarence Miller, the director of clinical services at Physical Therapy Services Center in Jefferson.
During his last visit, Miller discussed general information about falling, like statistics and what to do after falling. This presentation, Miller focused on preventing falls all-together.
“I’m getting a little more into prevention during transitional movements. Usually what happens when someone falls is they are doing some kind of transitional movement,” said Miller.
One of the focuses of Miller’s presentation was how seniors can minimize the odds of falling while traversing stairways and hills. To simplify his method, Miller gave them a phrase to remember.
“The good go up, and the bad go down,” said Miller.
According to Miller, most seniors have a “good leg” and a “bad leg.” Miller said seniors should lead with their good leg when walking up a stairway or hill, and lead with their bad leg when walking down. Miller says the good leg can provide much-needed stability if it follows rather than leads then walking downhill.
He also said seniors should always hold on to any available hand rails for additional support while walking on a stairway.
Miller also addressed how to avoid falling during other transitional movements, like getting out of bed.
To get out of bed, Miller advocated using a technique called “log-rolling.”
Using this technique, seniors would lie back with both knees bent and their feet flat against the bed. The senior would then roll over towards the direction they want to exit the bed, bring their legs over the edge of the bed and then pushing themselves up to a seated position with their arms.
“I teach this because you’re not twisting your core, and you’re not moving too fast,” said Miller.
Miller also showed the audience how to get up from a seated position.
Using Miller’s method, a senior would scoot to the edge of the chair/bed, and place the stronger leg slightly behind the weaker leg. Much like walking downhill, the good leg provides support for the weaker leg.
For added stability, seniors should place their hands on armrest or the edge of their bed, lean their trunk forward, and press down with their arms to stand up.
Miller also discussed assistance devices like canes and walkers, and said it is important to adjust the height of both to avoid discomfort, along with avoiding falls.
“When using a cane, always hold it in the opposite hand than your weaker side,”said Miller. He said many seniors believe they should hold the cane on their weak side to compensate, but the cane should be used for support on the side that a senior will place more of their weight on, which should be on their good leg.
After Miller finished his presentation, he thanked the audience for their attentiveness, and in return, an audience member thanked Miller for his demonstration.
Miller will return to Ashe Services for Aging next month to present more information about how to avoid falls. His practice, Physical Therapy Services Center, is located at 137 West Main Street in Jefferson.
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