Importance of Balance

It is commonly thought that falls really only happen in the older population (>65 years old) and that only they should aim to practice and improve their balance. This is not the case at all. Many falls occur in people of all ages and with balance training the number of falls that occur could dramatically be reduced. A study done by Laura A. Talbot and colleagues tested the balance of young, middle, and older adults. And although it is true that the percentage of falls is the largest in the older population, the percentages of falls that occur in the other two populations are too high.

For women who are 65 years old, there is a 30% chance that they will fall. And when they reach 85 years old, there is a 50% chance that they will fall.  And for men, there is a 13% chance that they will fall from 64-69 years old and a 31% chance that they will fall from 80-84 years old. About 50% of deaths in the older population are a result of falls that caused injury and account for more deaths than pneumonia or diabetes.

There are many medical conditions that occur in the older population that contribute to instability. Some of these include osteoarthritis, abnormally low blood pressure, and cataracts. But the young age group (20-45 years old) and the middle age group (46-65 years old) had quite a few falls in this study that was performed as well. The activity that caused them to fall was related to daily walking and movement for the middle and older age group in men and all three age groups in women. And for young adults, the reason given for falling was mainly accidental or environmental. The older populations cited it was because of gait or balance
impairment. Older men, middle aged women, and older women reported the most amount of injuries with these falls including fractures as well as other injuries.

This study demonstrated that there is a high percentage of falls and injuries in all age groups not just in the older population. Therefore, it is important that every person does balance training in order to prevent falls and injuries from occurring. The younger age group needs balance training to prevent so many accidents from happening while walking and running and the middle and older population needs it to increase their balance and improve gait in order to prevent falls.
By: Samantha Lawton

Sources:
Talbot, Laura et al. “Falls in young, middle-aged and older community dwelling adults: perceived cause, environmental factors and injury.” BMC Public Health 5.1 (2005): 86. Web. 18 Sept.2011.

Warshaw, Gregg. “Statistics on Falling on the Elderly.” NetWellness Consumer Health nformation. University of Cincinnati, 10 Apr 2006. Web. 18 Sep 2011. <http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/aging/faq9.cfm&gt;.

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