Late last year the New Zealand Healthy Quality and Safety Commission published in the New Zealand Medical Journal a call for an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to reducing the risk form falls. All your Chiropractors at Chiropractic Balance are members of the New Zealand Chiropractic Association and we support our spokesperson Cassandra Fairest in her statement that there is a great need for “individualised responses to prevent falls, one patient at a time, and for leadership responses that promote an integrated approach to reducing the risk of falls in older people”.
As Chiropractors we support you with better spine and nervous system health. Recently this has been scientifically demonstrated to have positive effects on balance in the older population and therefore could be part of helping reduce the future need of massive increases to healthcare costs for those who succumb to falls.
One shocking statistic I found when reading up on this subject was that falls have been shown to be the leading cause of hospital admissions and death in the over fifties! In fact the data shows that in 2014, 205,000 New Zealanders aged over fifty claimed ACC for a fall related injury which represented a 20% increase from 2013. Dr Kelly Holt, a former teacher of mine and a leading New Zealand Chiropractic researcher into this area, reports “a growing body of research suggests that chiropractic care may slow the rate of functional decline as you age, preserve your autonomy, improve your well-being and reduce accidents. It could also save New Zealand millions of dollars in the longer term.”
As the Dean of Research at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic, Dr Kelly Holt and his team recently published the results of a study in New Zealand that showed chiropractic care for a group aged 65 to 89 significantly impacted several factors that can influence falls’ prevention. The study ran for 12 weeks and showed that the group who received chiropractic care increased their ability to identify where their ankle joints were in space when they closed their eyes. The benefit of this means that your brain can be more accurately aware of where your foot is without having to look down at it when standing or walking. Other positive results observed in the treatment group showed that the older adults who received chiropractic care could also take a step much faster than the control group. The importance of this finding correlates with other research showing that the ability to take a fast step can assist fall prevention because this means you can better correct your balance if you do become unsteady.
Other research into older populations shows that as we age our brain may have difficulties accurately processing lots of sensory information when occurring at the same time, and that such distractions from this may cause falls. Amazingly, the study that Dr Kelly Holt and his team published also showed that the people in the group receiving chiropractic care were much better able to simultaneously process visual (sight) and auditory (sound) information more accurately in their brains than the control group.
You may remember or recognise that in your initial consult and subsequent progress evaluations with us at Chiropractic Balance we conduct many tests to see how well your brain is processing sensory information – in particular about where your brain perceives your body to be in space. We also analyse your posture, movement patterns and muscle strength to assess how well your spine and nervous system are functioning. The recommendations we give in regards to your care plan and lifestyle advice are to support you to have a healthier spine and better quality of life. Are you due for one of your regular progress evaluations? Or do you have a special loved one that may benefit from the attention to detail and personalised care that we offer at Chiropractic Balance? If so we’d love to help!
- NZMJ 2 December 2016, Vol 129 No 1446 ISSN 1175-8716
- Holt, Kelly R et al, “Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
- Health Quality & Safety Commission. New Zealand Atlas of Healthcare Variation. Falls. http://www.hqsc.govt. nz/our-programmes/ health-quality-evaluation/ projects/atlas-of-healthcare-variation/ falls/.