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What You Can Learn About Healthcare From the Failure of Fall Prevention Programs

In the spring, I’m presenting to our statewide assisted living association on implementing facility-wide fall prevention policies. I’ve spent a lot of time lately reading through research on fall prevention for older adults.

Fall prevention is one of the most common problems faced by institutions that care for older adultsAccording to the CDC, fall death rates in the US increased by 30% from 2007 to 2016. If this rate continues, it’s anticipated there will be seven fall deaths every hour by 2030. It's obvious the problem is getting worse, despite efforts to prevent avoidable falls.

In my research, I’ve found a few problems. Namely, the discrepancy between what research has found actually works and how falls prevention programs are structured in real life. Not to mention the “fluffy” information available to the general public online.

Not only do most fall prevention programs not work, but we implement policies that have...

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The Surprising Causes of Your Chronic Pain

Have you been told your persistent pain is due to “wear and tear” of your joints? That because you have arthritis you can expect to be in pain for the rest of your life? Or it’s because of your “poor posture?”

Unfortunately, these beliefs are all too common and pervasive even in the medical community. And holding on to these beliefs will prevent you from finally breaking through your pain.

I’m here to dispel these common myths of pain, tissue damage, and aging. And we’ll also cover three simple steps you can take to manage your pain. The reality is your pain is not due to “wear and tear” and you don’t have to accept living in pain for the rest of your life.

To illustrate the point here are a few facts about tissue damage and pain (from the Recovery Strategies Pain Guidebook):

  • 96% of athletes younger than 22 will show changes on an MRI that would be considered abnormal
  • 37% of 20 years olds with no pain have disc...
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Living With Chronic Pain? Quality Sleep Might Be The Key To Managing Your Pain.

 

Over half of adults over the age of 60 experience chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting longer than 3 months and is a very different experience for your brain than acute pain.

And unfortunately, chronic pain can have lasting implications on brain health in older adults, even increasing the risk of developing dementia.

One of the most common problems we hear from our clients living with chronic pain is how their sleep suffers. Chronic pain creates a vicious cycle of disrupted sleep in which lack of sleep causes heightened sensitivity to pain. Increased pain will impair your ability to sleep, and the cycle continues.

Disrupted sleep is yet another risk factor for dementia, so it’s critical to address lack of sleep if you are living with chronic pain. Sleep is also necessary for your body’s ability to heal and recover from the pain you’re experiencing.

There are many reasons why you might not be sleeping well from struggling with falling...

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The Story of Steroid Knee Injections and Healthcare in America

As a physical therapist, I’m often asked by patients about steroid injections for knee arthritis pain. I’ve worked with many who’ve received them, only to find mixed results. For some individuals they’ve been a lifesaver, the pain-relieving effects lasted for months. Others may have noticed improvement for several days, only to have the same pain return within a week. And for others, they noticed absolutely no difference. So what gives? Why such mixed results?

Research on steroid injections for chronic pain due to arthritis reveals less than stellar results. One study even found the use of injections accelerated the breakdown of healthy cartilage in the knee and had no impact on reported pain levels in those who received the injections.

Interpreting the Results

Understanding what’s happening here requires us to take a step back and look at the big picture of the human body. And the way our medical system views the body and the healing...

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The Difference Between Aging and Being "Under-Moved"

One of our favorite quotes from one of our favorite books on aging! It is possible to be young and weak because you aren't moving enough, just as it is possible to be old and strong because you move often. 

Being "under-moved" as a society is a great health crisis than aging. Make the choice to start aging well today by getting yourself moving in any way you can. Let us know how you are moving today in the comments, we would love to hear about it!

 

Want to learn more about mindful movement? Sign up for our email newsletters and receive our Balance, Falls, and Brain Health course FREE today.

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25 Movement Tips to Be More Active Today

Think you can’t find enough time in your day to exercise? You’re likely just missing out on opportunities to move more throughout your day without changing much.

Try out any one of these movement tips to get more action out of your day!

  1. Sit on the floor instead of the couch.
  2. Put your laundry basket on the floor and squat to fold your laundry.
  3. Squat to unload your dishwasher.
  4. Stretch your calves or mobilize your feet while you wash your dishes, brush your teeth, watch TV, drink your coffee, etc.
  5. Pull all the weeds in your yard by hand instead of using weed killers (bonus as this is better for the environment too)!
  6. Park in the back of the parking lot.
  7. Take the elevator instead of the stairs.
  8. Use less convenient appliances.
  9. Make your chores less efficient. For example, put the laundry basket in a different room than where you are putting the clothes away to get a few more steps in.
  10. Use a drying rack or clothes line instead of the dryer. This not only decreases...
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Alignment 101: Why We Teach Alignment

At Advanced Balance Clinic, we teach body alignment to help get people moving better. But there tends to be confusion around the term alignment.
 
When we refer to alignment, we mean the positioning of each of your body parts relative to each other. For example, if you are standing and you look down, where is your foot pointed relative to your hip? Is it angled out, angled in, or pointed straight forward?
 
And for most people, the first question is, "why does this matter?" It seems silly to spend so much time exploring these subtle variations of your body.
 
But it is important. And there are several reasons why.
 
The human body is complicated. When we focus on alignment, we also realize this is far from the whole picture. Take chronic pain, for example. Alignment work might be a good start for some people, but pain is more complex than meets the eye. As we've discussed in the past, research shows that chronic pain has nothing to...
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Chronic Pain Changes Your Brain

Brain health isn't a topic discussed often enough, particularly within the medical community. On the bright side, the topics of mental health and access to mental health services have come to light in the last few years. But, the aging brain is often left out of the conversation.
 
There are many unanswered questions about the decline in brain health with aging. The medical profession is starting to observe the differences in adults who experience brain atrophy and those who don’t. So, we're gaining some clarity. But, there's still so much we don't know.
 
The research identified some clear patterns in those who receive a diagnosis of dementia. But, keep in mind that patterns don't always give a clear cause. We know fall risk increases with increasing mental decline. We know poor mental health increases the risk of developing dementia. We know a connection exists between muscle weakness and dementia. What isn't as clear is why.
 
I've studied these...
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The Whole Picture of Chronic Pain Isn't What You Think

As the chronic pain epidemic continues to pour over into the opioid epidemic, new research continues to break down the complexity of chronic pain. Just a few short years ago, chronic pain was viewed completely from a biomechanical perspective. When the medical community realized that treating only the injury was not only not working, but the epidemic of chronic pain continued to worsen they realized they needed to take a step back and look at the whole person. What has been discovered has been an eye-opening look at how chronic pain involves factors beyond what is happening within body tissue. Now, we take a broader look at the whole person and understand chronic pain has a multitude of origins.

The Actual Risk Factors for Chronic Pain

Over time, physicians and other professionals realized the amount of tissue damage being seen on an MRI and the amount of pain a person was experiencing just weren't matching up. Beyond that, those who underwent surgical procedures were showing...

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When Body Alignment Matters: Function v. Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with an annual cost estimated to be about $100 billion. These costs are associated with healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity. A majority of adults experience acute pain at least once in their lives with about 28% later developing chronic pain.

With the nation’s growing opioid epidemic, there's been considerable emphasis on understanding the sources of chronic pain. Many mistakenly believe that tissue damage is directly correlated with a person’s risk of developing chronic pain. Statements from medical professionals to their patients which include “Your MRI shows that you have the spine of an 80 year old and you can expect to be in pain for the rest of your life” or “just avoid stairs or squatting entirely if your knees are hurting” just further exacerbate the myths surrounding chronic pain.

There is much confusion regarding body alignment, movement, and pain...

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