More than ever the number of falls amongst our fragile population is growing. Research suggests that, in the over-65 age group, the risk of falling is increasingly serious and the result can be catastrophic.
Falls prevention research targets gait patterns and balance, both of which are considered risk factors. The capability of our specialised diagnostic equipment safely enables the measurement of balance parameters, stride length and gait speed.
WHY IS WALKING SO IMPORTANT? YOUR GAIT SPEED IS NOW CONSIDERED YOUR SIXTH VITAL SIGN.
Vital signs are routinely used in caring for older adults patients by health care professionals. Because vital signs reflect the interaction of many physiological systems, they are effective indicators of general health. In rehabilitation, vital signs serve as an index of activity and exercise tolerance and are frequently used as an outcome measure to assess efficacy of intervention. Just as your heart rate and blood pressure are classic indicators for your cardiac health, walking places demands on multiple organ systems because it requires energy, control of movement and antigravity support. Therefore your walking speed is not only a robust outcome measure but also a powerful predictor of functional decline, risk of development of frailty, and risk of mortality.
“Gait speed could be considered a simple and accessible summary indicator of vitality because it integrates known and unrecognized disturbances in multiple organ systems, many of which affect survival.”
Studenski S, Perara S, Patel K, et al. Gait speed and survival in older adults. JAMA. 2011;305(1):50-58
Some older patients have their vital signs recorded by their GP at every visit, which may only be annually for healthy individuals. In acute care settings, the standard may be to monitor and record vitals signs every 2 to 4 hours. In the intensive care unit (ICU), vital signs may be noted hourly or more frequently, depending on the complexity of the patient’s condition.
When was the last time your gait (walking) was analyzed and your walking speed “clocked”?
MEET OUR FALLS PREVENTION PRACTITIONERS
Nick Le Lievre