National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
By Dr. Ian McLeod

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. It’s believed that 1 in 4 Americans aged 65 and older falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

Just one fall can result in a serious health decline or even death. Therefore, it’s important for older adults and their families to become aware of ways to prevent these detrimental accidents before they happen.

While there are a number of factors that could lead to a fall – such as poor eyesight, physical surroundings and underlying health conditions – one of the most common is lack of balance. As they age, most people become less active and begin losing coordination, flexibility and the ability to balance, making it easier to fall.

There are a number of exercise-based programs that can help improve balance, but it’s important to first understand the underlying cause. And that’s where CDP comes in.

This new technology, short for computerized digital posturography, has shown great promise in helping determine why patients may fall from balance-related issues. During the CDP test, patients wear a safety harness that ensures they won’t fall or be injured during the test. The specialist then administers a series of trials that examine how well patients can maintain their balance under changing conditions.

The patients look at panoramic scenes presented on a wrap-around screen while a test operator tilts or slides the platform on which they are standing to evaluate how their balance adjusts to different situations.

The CDP results help physicians determine the scope of their patients’ balance-related issues, as well as the best course of action. In many cases, the treatment could be something as non-invasive as vestibular therapy, an exercise-based regimen that helps prevent falls in those experiencing balance problems, dizziness or vertigo.

Seniors and their family members should be aware that there is so much they can do to deter and potentially prevent falls. By acting to ensure they and their loved ones are aware of the options available to them, they can possibly avoid the lengthy, costly and painful consequences of a fall.