There are multiple intricate mechanisms that help us to maintain our balance.
- Inner Ears - The Vestibule in the inner ear contains the Utricle, Saccule and the three Semicircular canals that help to orient our body in a three-dimensional plane as well as maintain balance during movement, acceleration and deceleration, turning on an axis etc.
- Eyes - The Eyes co-ordinate with the Vestibule through the vestibular ocular reflex.
- Joints- Our Joints contain receptors called Proprioreceptors which help us to judge our position with respect to the ground beneath us.
As we grow older there is a gradual enfeeblement of our senses which makes us prone to falls. Some of these are:
- Failing eyesight
- Poor muscle and bone strength
- Loss of proprioception
- Presbyastatis - loss of hair cells in the Vestibular sense organ
- Medication -especially sedatives and tranquilizers
- Concomitant Neurological disorders like Parkinsonism
- Chronic Alcohol use
How to Avoid Falls
1. Lighting - keep rooms and corridors well lit - we also have motion sensor battery operated lights that are readily available and work very well. These are available online as well.
2. Non-slippery flooring, Carpets securely fastened to the floor. Remove loose wires, pet leashes or anything that obstructs your unhindered access to walking. Avoid wet floors and uneven surfaces.
3. Support railings - especially in bathrooms (wet surface) and on staircases.
4. Use assistive devices - a stick can be a lifesaver.
5. Footwear - should be comfortable, well-fitting, sensible and low healed.
6. Keep all necessary items at waist level, or no higher than your shoulder level so that you do not have to climb on top of chairs/ boards to reach them.
7. Do strengthening and balance exercises at home or outside- simple things like regular walking, standing on one leg at a time, closing your eyes and trying to maintain balance, etc.
In spite of precautions if you continue to fall kindly go for a fall assessment where the actual reason for the fall will be ascertained and remedies specific to that problem will be explained to you.