Category: Neurological Conditions

The Fear of Falling

Guest blogger Colorado State University and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Falling can cause major issues for older adults. Injuries can range from an ankle sprain to a traumatic brain injury. These injuries can lead to high direct medical costs and indirect medical costs. Not only that, but it can lead to an increase in fall risk factors.

“Fear of falling often develops after experiencing a fall” (Tomita et al.).The same study shows that even one fall can lead to developing fear. There is a vicious circle that is associated with the fear of falling that can be hard to break without intervention. “Fear of falling is associated with negative physical and psychosocial health outcomes, including depression and
activity restriction” (Lee, Oh and Hong 2018). Once an older adult obtains this fear, the less likely they are willing to participate in activities such as exercise or even leaving their house. This can lead to weakened muscles and depression. Which in turn are more risk factors for older adults.

A team of therapists including occupational and physical therapists can help to overcome the fear of falling. Occupational therapists can assess the home for safety, both occupational and physical therapists can do a fall risk assessment on the client, and both can create a plan to address risk factors. They can suggest home modifications, address risk factors around the house, see how the patient gets around their home, and giving the patient exercises to build strength and work on balance. As the American Occupational Therapy Association’s page says, “Identifying environmental factors that contribute to falls and implementing the occupational therapy strategies to ameliorate these elements can improve safety and reduce health care costs while enhancing the participation of older adults in those communities.”

In order to keep older adults independent, it is important to have them assessed to find their risk factors. Each individual is unique, and so are their needs. Therapists working together can help to improve the quality of life by addressing fall risk in our loved ones.

For more information on Home Safety or Fall Risk Assessments call Covell Care & Rehabilitation at 970.204.4331.

Citations:
Lee, Seonhye, et al. “Comparison of Factors Associated with Fear of Falling between Older Adults with and without a Fall History.” International Journal of Environmental Research
and Public Health, vol. 15, no. 5, May 2018, p. 982., doi:10.3390/ijerph15050982.
Tomita, Yoshihito, et al. “Prevalence of Fear of Falling and Associated Factors among Japanese Community-Dwelling Older Adults.” Medicine, vol. 97, no. 4, Jan. 2018, doi:10.1097/md.0000000000009721.
Toto, Pamela. “Occupational Therapy and Prevention of Falls.” Aota.org, American
Occupational Therapy Association, 2017, www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/PA/Facts/Fall-Prevention.aspx.

Speech Therapy for MS Patients

In the US, the number of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is estimated to be about 400,000, with approximately 10,000 new cases diagnosed every year (that’s 200 new cases per week). That is a startling statistic and many of symptoms are as well. One being the loss of speaking abilities over time.

Speech problems are a common concern for people with MS. Because MS affects the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body, it is hard for some people with MS to control the muscles used to talk. Speech therapists are trained and able to help regain or maintain speaking abilities.

Speech therapy treatment will begin by finding a baseline of the patient’s speech quality.  Establishing this baseline is important, because it gives both the patient and the therapist a clear starting point from which to judge progress. This will be followed by developing a plan to improve the patient’s speech. These plans often include exercises that will build control of facial muscles (may improve enunciation), breathing exercises (may reduce # of pauses in speech) and address other issues surrounding the use of facial and vocal muscles (i.e. difficulties swallowing).

Often forgotten, is a speech therapists ability to help MS patients with cognitive changes such as:

  • Information processing (dealing with information gathered by the five senses)
  • Memory (acquiring, retaining and retrieving new information)
  • Attention and concentration (particularly divided attention)
  • Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
  • Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
  • Verbal fluency (word-finding)

If you have more questions about Speech Therapy in regards to MS patients or in general please contact us directly. (970) 204-4331 or visit https://www.nationalmssociety.org/