The Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has issued a new guideline urging its members to screen patients and determine their risk of falling. The practice parameter and supporting research appear this month in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology.
In the U.S., accidental falls result in 1.8 million emergency room visits per year, and upwards of 16,000 deaths. According to AAN, a person faces an increased risk of falling if he or she has had a stroke, if he or she suffers from dementia, or has balance or walking problems. These falls put patients at risk of everything from hip fractures to head injuries to death.
Also according to AAN, those people with the highest risk of falling are those diagnosed with:
- Walking and balance problems
- Or who use walking aids like canes or walkers
Those who are probably at a higher risk of falling have a history that includes the following:
- A medical history of falls
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Nerve damage
- Weakness or loss of feeling in the legs
Other factors that may influence one’s risk of falling include the following:
- Advanced age
- Age-related frailty
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble with activities of daily living
- Memory and thinking problems
- Use of medicines such as sleeping aids and anti-depressants"
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