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Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Better Balance Can Prevent Fateful Falls

Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy can help you take the steps you need to reduce your risk

If you’re one of the 1.3 million Californians who fell last year, you understand just how serious fall-related injuries can be. Recent statistics show that nearly one in three individuals over the age of 65 will fall each year, resulting in severe injuries (such as hip or spine fractures) or even death. In fact, two Californians die every day from injuries related to falls.

Despite these sobering statistics, a fall does not have to be in your future. By recognizing your risk factors for falling, you can take the necessary steps to ensure you stay on your feet. Both intrinsic risk factors, which are your own unique characteristics, and extrinsic factors, which are related to your environment, are often easy to address and can decrease your likelihood of falling.

Intrinsic risk factors account for about 55 percent of all falls and include:

» Certain medical conditions: Parkinson’s disease, postural hypotension, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, urinary incontinence

» Demographic characteristics: female, Caucasian, over age 80

» Medication usage: polypharmacy (the use of many medications), various classes of drugs, alcohol use

» Mental status: depression, dementia, poor judgment

» Musculoskeletal problems: muscle weakness, postural dysfunction, arthritis, osteoporosis, limited flexibility, poor balance, decreased reaction time, gait speed

» Sensory impairments: poor vision, hearing impairments, decreased sensation due to peripheral neuropathy

» Functional level: cane/walker use, history of falls, difficulty performing everyday activities

Extrinsic risk factors account for the remaining 45 percent of all falls. By performing a simple home safety check, you can assess any potential safety hazards in your living environment and make changes to prevent injury. Some of these environmental risk factors may include:

» Ground surface: slippery floors, uneven tile, raised sidewalk, loose throw rugs, cords and wires on the floor

» Lighting: dark or dimly lit rooms, absence of night lights

» External demands: shopping in a crowded mall

» Home safety issues: clutter, unsecured furniture, low toilet seats, absence of grab bars, beds that are too high or too low, cabinets that are too high or too low

Through the use of standardized balance and fitness tests, Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy can help seniors identify risk factors for falling and develop preventative therapy strategies.
Through the use of standardized balance and fitness tests, Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy can help seniors identify risk factors for falling and develop preventative therapy strategies. (Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy photo)

If you would like more assistance in assessing your risk factors for falls, you should stop by Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy, 4540 Hollister Ave., located within the Ben Page Youth Center. Complimentary balance screens are available by appointment for Santa Barbara’s seniors. These free evaluations are performed by a licensed physical therapist and include a variety of standardized balance and fitness tests. Results of the assessment can help you identify your risk factors for falling and can determine any potential physical therapy needs. If you are interested in getting back into a regular fitness program, test results can also aid our staff in placing you in an appropriate group exercise class.

While Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy may have its roots as a sports performance training center, its senior membership has grown steadily over the past eight years. With an evolving class schedule, comfortable fitness center environment and affordable personal training options, Titan is committed to providing high-quality exercise programs for Santa Barbara’s seniors. In fact, all senior exercise classes are taught by either a licensed physical therapist or by a certified personal trainer who has a special certification in senior fitness. These very popular group fitness classes can help you improve your strength, flexibility, posture, coordination and reaction times. They are perfect for anyone looking to improve balance and prevent falls!

Marie Cline has been a member of Titan for several years and is impressed with how different and specialized Titan classes are.

“In the 1980s, we used to work on balance holding onto the wall,” she said. “In Titan classes we are made to come out to the middle of the room. They don’t treat us like old fogeys.”

Issy Patton, a member of SBGAL Hiking Club, uses Titan balance classes to increase her confidence outdoors.

“Since attending classes with Breanna (Czenczelewski), there has been a definite improvement in my balance and coordination skills,” she said. “I would recommend these classes to anyone with concerns about balance, the classes work!”

Don’t let a fear of falling prevent you from achieving the active lifestyle you deserve. To sign up for your free assessment or to receive our current class schedule, call Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy at 805.683.1231, or click here for more information.

— Breanna Czenczelewski DPT and Kaylene Wagner ACSM HFS, NASM CPT are with Titan Fitness & Physical Therapy. Statistics in this article are from the California Physical Therapy Association.

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