According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of adults aged 65 and older experience falls each year. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Falls are a public health problem, and fortunately they are largely preventable.
“As a physical therapist, I often meet seniors who think that they are helping themselves prevent a fall by using an assistive device, such as a cane or walker. But if they are not using it properly, it can actually increase their likelihood of having a fall, or cause back and shoulder pain,” said Christine Gulotta, director of therapy at Shell Point’s Rehab Center.
The most common mistakes seniors make when using assistive devices include:
- Looking down at the ground
- Walker too far/too close to body
- Walking outside of the base of support from the walker
- Using cane improperly (i.e., wrong hand or wrong step/pace sequence)
When using an assistive device, it is extremely important to have the device fitted to your height, follow proper body mechanics, and use the device properly for the most beneficial use.
If you are interested in working with a physical therapist regarding proper use and set up of an assistive device, please contact the Rehabilitation Center at the Larsen Pavilion at (239) 454-2256.