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Brain-Based Fall Prevention & Preparation.

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We are now officially 2 months away from our first live event of 2024! In June, we will be teaching our live and livestreamed 2-day course from Las Vegas – Defying Gravity: Fall Prevention and Fall Preparation.

We’re very excited about this course as it is one that Dr. Cobb has been wanting to put together for over 5 years. It’s going to be intense!

Regardless of your plans to join us for Defying Gravity, we believe that understanding falls: from the  statistics, to prevention strategies, and preparation exercises should be MANDATORY for every movement professional. 

In fact, we believe it’s mandatory for everyone. 

The Statistics

  1. Prevalence of Falls
    • Over 25% of Americans aged 65+ fall each year.
    • Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.
    • Falls do not discriminate, however. They are a leading cause of both non-fatal and fatal injury across ALL age groups – not just the over 65 crowd.
  2. Economic Impact
    • Projected medical costs related to older adult falls are expected to exceed $101 billion by 2030.
    • Annual costs for non-fatal fall injuries were $50 billion in 2015.
  3. Locations and Risk Factors
    • 60% of falls occur at home, 30% in public settings, and 10% in healthcare facilities.
    • Risk increases with mild hearing loss, visual disorders, sensory deficits, mobility loss, strength deficits, vestibular dysfunction, drug interactions, and more. It’s a complex web! 
  4. Consequences Beyond the Body
    • Falls can lead to physical decline, depression, social isolation, and a reduced quality of life due to fear of falling again.

Fall Definitions

They can be classified into three main categories: slips, trips, and falls.

  1. Slips occur when there is too little traction or friction between the footwear and the walking surface. Common causes include wet or oily floors, or occasional spills, making slips more likely to occur on level ground.
  2. Trips happen when your foot collides with an object, causing you to lose balance. This type of fall can occur due to clutter, uneven floor surfaces, or obstacles in walkways.
  3. Falls can be divided into two categories: falls on the same level (level ground falls) and elevated falls. Level ground falls are common and usually less severe, but can still lead to significant injuries, especially in elderly populations. Elevated falls, such as from ladders, stairs, or jumps, generally result in more severe injuries due to the greater impact involved.

Fall Direction Matters – A Lot!

The direction of a fall significantly influences the type of injury sustained:

  • Forward Falls: Often result in injuries to the hands, wrists, knees, and face. Trying to break the fall with outstretched hands can lead to wrist fractures (such as scaphoid or Colles’ fractures) and complex hand injuries.
  • Backward Falls: These falls are particularly dangerous as they can lead to head injuries, including concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries if the back of the head strikes the ground. They can also result in back injuries like spinal fractures or tailbone injuries, as well as shoulder injuries and dislocations when you twist in an effort to catch yourself.
  • Sideways Falls: Commonly result in hip and shoulder injuries. Hip fractures are particularly prevalent among the elderly from sideways falls due to the impact on the greater trochanter of the femur. Some estimates suggest that 95% of all hip fractures are a result of sideways falls.

Specificity Matters!

With a moment of contemplation most people would quickly understand that teaching a new gymnast a front flip vs a back flip is different. They are not the same skill and subsequently require different approaches.

By the same token, learning to voluntarily fall and roll as a new martial artist when practicing by yourself, is NOT the same as being caught off-guard by an opponent and finding yourself headed to the floor.

As brain-based coaches what this means for us is that fall prevention and fall preparation requires:

  • Knowing the TYPES and CONSEQUENCES of different falls and their injury patterns
  • Using that information to develop specific prevention strategies for each type of fall
  • Learning and optimizing both voluntary and reflexive responses to a loss of balance in all directions.

While this seems obvious, it’s an approach that is sadly lacking in many fall prevention programs that we’ve encountered which is why Defying Gravity is coming soon!

Please keep this email handy and feel free to share it with fellow pros, family and friends. Speaking from personal experience, one bad fall can alter the trajectory of someone’s life. If we can do something to help prevent that, we should.

Stay safe and keep moving,

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