Falls prevention education needed for disabled, Fremantle conference told

Falls prevention education needed for disabled, Fremantle conference told

FALLS prevention programs should be targeted at those living with a disability as well as the elderly, according to Injury Control Council of WA ambassador and car crash survivor Mark Daniels.

Mr Daniels, who was in Fremantle last week to speak at the ICCWA’s Grassroots Falls Festival Take Two conference, lost a leg in a serious car accident in 2015, but refuses to let that stop him achieving all he wants in life, including becoming a qualified personal trainer.

Despite this drive, the 23-year-old said he knew firsthand the issues associated with falls and said people should become more aware that it did not just affect the elderly.

“Firstly, there is the usual falls experienced by the elderly that can severely impact their independence and quality of life and then there are everyday falls for people like myself suffering from a disability,” he said.

“My personal belief is that we should be empowering the disabled community and educating them on how to fall safely, immediately self-assess after a fall and how to get back up easily if no help is available.

“I’m grateful to be able to have the chance to give medical professionals an insight into the mind of a patient.

“I think sometimes what is theoretically correct and practically correct become a little blurred and I’m hoping to be able to show them a different perspective.”

The conference brought together more than 250 health professionals and falls experts to talk about a range of innovative programs and ideas currently used to reduce the impact falls had on an individual.

ICCWA injury prevention manager Rachel Meade said falls were the biggest cause of hospitalisation and cost the state health system more than $100,000 a year.

“Given the ageing population and increasing cost of falls to the Western Australian community, we would like to see falls rates and the rate of injuries associated with falls reduce and for more older adults to remain independent and in the community,” she said.

“Innovative programs are occurring across all sectors, including the community, hospital and residential aged care.

“These include Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital using virtual reality serious games to provide new ways of training health professionals, and Joanne Hickley, from Ocean Gardens Retirement Village, who has brought together aspects of multiple evidence-based falls prevention strategies, including tai chi, into a wellness program.”

Visit www.stayonyourfeet.com.au for more information.

Australian fall statistics

·       -one in four people over 60 will fall each year.

·       -one in three people over 65 will fall each year.

·       -92,150 Australians over 65 were hospitalised because of falls in 2010-11.

·       -falls cause more injury related deaths than transport crash fatalities.