August 24, 2015

Fall Prevention and Proper Footwear

By Nicole Lee, Director of Rehabilitation, Jeffrey & Susan Brudnick Center for Living
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 fall every year. That’s a huge number! In fact, twenty to thirty percent of those falls result in moderate to severe injury. Many community resources exist and provide assistance and tips to help reduce the risk of falls in the elderly. Often recommendations include such “common sense” solutions such as the use of grab bars in the bathroom, removal of throw rugs and ample lighting.
One area that is often overlooked in trying to evaluate why people fall is in one’s footwear. As Physical and Occupational Therapists, one of the first things we notice when assessing a new patient is the type of footwear he or she is wearing. It is not uncommon to find new patients and residents wearing backless slippers or sneakers with worn-out soles. Both of these styles are known to increase the risk of falling.
In regards to fall prevention, the best type of shoes are ones with a closed toe and closed back, lightweight, have no heel and are easy to put on and take off. Shoes with Velcro closure is a great option, or consider replacing the shoelaces with elastic ones. In addition, keep in mind that shoes should also have good tread on the bottom; this creates friction and prevents sliding on slippery surfaces. Shoes should always be comfortable and provide cushioning with good arch support. If the shoes do not fit right and/or are not comfortable, the gait pattern could be altered, which ultimately will increase the likelihood of a fall.
As therapists, we often find ourselves making recommendations in proper footwear. It makes a huge difference! If residents or family members have questions regarding what is considered proper footwear, please feel free to stop in the therapy department and ask for suggestions. Fall prevention and proper footwear is an important priority for us.