Serious falls can lead to a number of negative outcomes in older adults, from impaired mobility to loss of independence to early death. Thus, steps that can be taken to reduce the risk for falls will not only potentially result in a longer life, but also help support a higher quality of life in those remaining years.
Research has shown that seniors with a history of falls tend to have impaired balance and reduced muscle strength (especially in the back)—both of which are associated with advancing age. Let’s see if addressing these areas can reduce fall risk and what role chiropractic care may play in the process.
In one study, researchers compared three fall prevention approaches (educational classes, home safety assessments, and exercise training) and found that participants in the exercise group had the lowest risk for falls. Another study compared exercise on a stationary bike versus movement-based exercises using a video game system (called exergames). The results showed that the participants in the exergames group experienced greater improvements in mobility and balance. Taken together, these studies suggest that a movement-based exercise approach is effective for reducing fall risk, which coordinates with the research that shows that older adults with a history of regular exercise are less likely to have a serious fall.
A 2020 study involving active-duty military personnel with chronic back pain found that adding chiropractic care to a rehabilitative program featuring isometric and balance-focused exercises resulted in improved back pain, function, muscle strength, and balance compared with a control group that received no care. In another study, researchers observed that a twelve-week chiropractic treatment program was effective in improving sensorimotor function in older adults, which is associated with a reduced fall risk.
Finally, an analysis of data from 39 studies involving 17,626 seniors found that those with pain in the neck, lower back, hip, knee, and foot were more likely to exhibit poor balance, especially those with a history of chronic musculoskeletal pain.
The results from these various studies suggest that older adults can reduce their risk for serious fall by addressing current musculoskeletal complaints—of which chiropractic care is an excellent choice—and regularly engaging in exercise to improve balance and strength.