Falls appear to be one of the risk factors of injury related morbidity and mortality among older adults in the United States. Each year, more than 1.6 million older adults come to the emergency departments because of fall related injuries. Among older individuals, a fall injury is one of the most common risk factors of hospital admissions due to fractures and physical injuries that result in functional and social disabilities. Fractures that are caused by falls can lead to hospital stays and disability resulting in lengthy hospital admissions and increased direct medical costs. Arthritis however is also correlated as a risk factor to fall related injuries in the older population.
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According to the May 2 issue of the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, arthritis significantly increases the risk of falls accidents. The report was based on the research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health promotion about fall and fall injuries among patients with arthritis. The researchers noted that some of the major consequences of falls include disabilities such as hip fractures, brain injuries and a decline in the persons' functional and social activities. They also noted that fall injuries are not only common among older adults but also among middle-aged adults. Middle aged adults along with older adults also have the highest incidence of arthritis across the United States and that arthritis is the most common cause of disability.
The researchers used the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System which is an annual telephone survey of non-institutionalized adults across the US. According to the authors, age adjusted median prevalence of one fall, any fall, two or more falls and fall injuries was 28%, 79%, 137%, 149% respectively among adults with arthritis compared with adults without arthritis. The age adjusted median prevalence of fall injuries was 2.5 higher among adults with arthritis.
The authors also suggested that interventions that use physical therapy and exercise to improve gait, balance and lower body strength are the most effective fall prevention measures among many others. The authors note that currently, all prevention approaches of public health were focused on modifying risk factors, such as leg muscle weakness, gait and balance problems, poor vision, environmental hazards and psychoactive medications. Approaches in preventing health outcomes among adults with arthritis are focused on evidence based self management education and physical activity interventions by correcting muscle weakness and balance dysfunction to improve functioning. The authors believed that combining arthritis exercise programs and proven fall prevention intervention might reduce the risk of falls for at risk population.
They reported though that exercise or physical therapy to improve gait, balance and lower body strength have shown to reduce fall risk by 14 % -37% and they considered it as the most effective single strategy for fall prevention. Based on the study, Tai Chi, as a form of exercise, is an effective fall prevention that showed to improve neuromuscular function. However, Tai Chi intervention programs are not currently endorsed for use by 12-CDC funded state arthritis programs because Tai Chi intervention programs specifically for arthritis outcomes are still being evaluated.
The number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase steadily through at least 2030, putting more adults at higher risk for falls and fall injuries. Efforts to address this growing public health problem require raising awareness about the link between arthritis and falls, evaluating evidence-based arthritis interventions for their effects on falls, and implementing fall prevention programs more widely through changes in clinical and community practice,” the authors concluded.
Based on the report, the burden of falls and fall-related injuries is high among adults with individuals with arthritis. However, the authors believe that arthritis can be addressed through greater dissemination of the condition management and fall prevention programs in community practice.
People with arthritis are also susceptible in other types of deformities and difficulties in managing their condition. Get the help of a professional health provider immediately to help you prevent other health risks caused by arthritis now.
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