The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear

When an older person falls and is injured, this often can be a worrisome experience. Broken hip. A broken hip is quite often the first step on a trip to a nursing home. And if you are already in a nursing home when you fall and hurt yourself, this is when they might decide to place you into a wheelchair and limit your ability to walk “for your own good”.

The injury itself is bad enough. A fractured hip or femur can create a variety of other, potentially more serious health concerns. A concern that is not paid enough attention to, though, is psychological. Despite the fact that it won’t kill you or send you straight to the hospital, the psychological “fear of falling” can reduce your quality of life substantially.

You don’t even need to be the person who fell to be affected. Those who know someone who had a bad fall, or who witnessed someone fall, are much more likely to be afraid of falling and to therefore limit their physical activity.

* Fear of falling is common among older individuals, including those who have never experienced a traumatic fall.

* This fear of falling decreases confidence and leads to avoiding activities.

* Activity avoidance and fear reduces quality of life.

* Less activity means your bones will be under less load and will become more brittle. Your muscles will also weaken and shrink

* Decreased input from your body into your brain will weaken your brain. A weakened brain will be less able to control your body.

Fear of Falling leads to Activity Avoidance leads to Loss of Muscle & Bone Strength leads to Depression leads to Decreased Quality of Life
All this is a cycle. Don’t get stuck in the cycle! It is very important to be active and enjoy our lives, in fact your bones and brain depend on it.

The problem, as shown above, is that the fear of falling causes people to avoid activities that could possibly put them in danger of falling. This is a LOT of potential activities. And that activity avoidance causes deconditioning and a loss of muscle and bone strength. This lack of activity and fulfillment leads to depression, and all this feeds into a cycle that causes a decrease in your quality of life.

The way to avoid all of this is to avoid a fall and/or to remain positive after a fall or after witnessing a fall. While fear can be a valuable too, it can also be a problem if reduces your enjoyment of your “Golden Years”.

In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a good sense of balance. Balance is a function of three key components: your vision, your inner ear, and your proprioception (joint position sense). As people get older the ability to see clearly tends to decrease. On top of that many older people take numerous medications, some of which may cause dizziness or low blood pressure (which can cause falls). Dealing with all of these things requires a healthy and responsive nervous system. At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.


Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System, When Seniors Fall: The Science, and Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts.

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