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Ladder falls; the risk is real!

Before you pull out the ladder and tackle that never ending list of DIY jobs, avoid becoming a ladder falls statistic and have a think about calling in a professional.

With the increase in people working from home during the COVID pandemic, emergency departments have also seen an increase of 31% in DIY type injuries, with the majority being males between 25-64; and involving ladder falls!

Australian music ‘guru’ Molly Meldrum infamously suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull,  when he fell three meters from a ladder before Christmas several years ago, and has had health issues as a result of this fall ever since

Most recently, the original guitarist from the band The Skyhooks, Peter Starkie (72)  tragically died from a ladder fall.  His brother, Bob Starkie reported online;

Very sad to deliver the news that my brother Peter has tragically died in one of those stupid ladder accidents … he was only 72 when he took the dive and had plenty of life ahead of him.”

Ladders falls are now amongst the leading causes of traumatic brain injury across the developed world, due to ageing populations.  Of all causes of Traumatic Brain Injury, falls are also the most fatal – over 60% result in deaths.

Pretty scary statistics, huh?  Unfortunately fear of falling is also a factor that can impair a person’s quality of life and even accelerate mobility and functional decline. Much like a fear of drowning has people avoiding water of any kind, fear of falling prevents people from doing things they may enjoy, like walking, going bowling and going out with their friends and family.

So where is the good news? The good news is that you can do something about this  … 

If you are confident with your balance, your fear of falling should decrease. So what helps your balance?  Strength.  They go hand in hand.  Here is what you can do to reduce your fear of falling, and in turn, your falls risk:

Challenge your balance daily 

  • include reaching out of your normal base of support – something that can be done safely in the kitchen with benches nearby;
  • practice picking up items and relocating them slightly further away at varying heights and distances;
  • try changing your base of support while completing a well set up exercise to make balancing a little more difficult
  • for something a little bit more advanced, and when you are more confident with these activities, you can also hold balance positions for longer periods of time, close your eyes, complete other movements while balancing and reduce the amount of support you have. 

The more we work muscles that help control balance, the better our balance becomes.

Strengthening exercises

With your health, ‘think global, act local’; strengthen your larger groups of muscles, especially in the lower limbs.  Make exercises functional and part of daily life.  For example:

  • sitting and standing repeatedly from your upright dining chair without using your hands if possible
  • heel and toe raises while waiting for the kettle to boil
  • mini lunges resting your hand on the kitchen counter 
  • incorporate upper limb and lower limb exercise – sit and stands with shoulder raises holding a can of beans

Walk daily 

Take a walk each day to increase your activity tolerance to 30 mins most days of the week.  It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes all at once, two sets of 15 minute walks are just as beneficial.  Walk with friends or family members to increase confidence.

Regular exercise releases endorphins in the body- a natural pain relief and ‘feel good’ hormone.  

Other exercise

Take part in activities like yoga or Tai Chi to increase your strength and balance.

 

With nearly one third of over 65’s expected to experience at least one accident involving a fall per year, it makes sense to do what you can to prevent yourself becoming one of those in the one third category, and especially avoid ladder falls.

Well designed programs with falls prevention exercise have been evidenced to prevent falls and injuries for older people living in their own homes, and is shown to be the best approach. 

Call on a Mobile Rehab physiotherapist or exercise physiologist who can visit you in your own home and assist you with a program that will have maximum benefit for your balance.

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