Fall Risk and Chiropractic Care

Fall risk increases with aging. Every year, one in three older adults experience a fall. These falls are the leading cause of injury related hospital admissions and death in older people. What is one way to help decrease the occurrence of falls in older individuals? You guessed it, Chiropractic!  Let’s look at some research!

1st Outcome Measure

One study done in New Zealand had 60 participants over the age of 65 who were randomly assigned to either the chiropractic group or the control group. One outcome measure looked at the speed at which participants could take a step. This is important because the faster a step can be taken, the less likely a fall will occur. They found that after four weeks there was no change in stepping speed in either group. However, after twelve weeks there was significant improvement in the stepping time of participants who received chiropractic care. This change was 2.5 times greater than the positive change seen in another study which looked at change in stepping speed after 6 months of exercise.

It is important to note that it took more than 4 weeks for beneficial changes to occur. This shows that with this outcome measure, chiropractic has a cumulative effect. When you visit a chiropractor for certain conditions, it may take time for a noticeable change to occur.

2nd Outcome Measure

Geriatric, fall risk, seniors, older adultsMultisensory integration is another outcome measure that was used in this study. Multisensory integration is how we combine information from our different senses to form an idea of what is happening in and around us. In older adults, the time for multisensory integration takes longer. This means it takes them longer to respond appropriately to different scenarios, like a hazardous situation which could result in a fall. This study tested how the participants could combine sight and sounds. The participants who received chiropractic care could better integrate sound and visual information after four weeks compared to the control group. After twelve weeks, they improved even more!

3rd Outcome Measure

The last outcome measure this study investigated was joint position sense of the participants’ ankles. The ankle joint was not treated in this study, only joint dysfunction in the spine. It is important for older adults to know where their ankle is in space to prevent falling after a slip. They found that those participants in the chiropractic care group improved their ankle joint position sense after 12 weeks compared to the control group. It seems that by removing the spinal dysfunction, the brain was better able to process information sent regarding position of the ankle. This is important to decrease fall risk because if the brain is able to better determine where the ankle is in space, there will be less likelihood of tripping.

This preliminary study shows that chiropractic care can have a beneficial effect on older adults and fall risk. This is important to consider for the well-being of older adults as well as the burden falls have on the healthcare system. In addition to exercise and education, chiropractic is a great way for older adults to maintain and increase their health and quality of life!

If you have any questions on how we can help your stepping time, multisensory integration or joint position sense feel free to contact us @519-376-5657 or email us at admin@soundchiros.ca

Holt KR, Haavik H, Lee ACL, Murphy B, Elley CR. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal Of Manipulative And Physiological Therapeutics. 2016;39(4):267-278. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.02.003

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