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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds We’re back with Julia again to learn more about falls. So Julia, something that I see a lot in clinic is people who’ve had a fall and then they become fearful of falling. And that increases their risk of falling again. So what is this fear of falling and why is it so important? Well it’s a bit like a vicious cycle that people get into. Having had a fall or noticing that they might be more at risk of falls, people start to change the way they walk. They change the way they do things.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds And as a consequence, this sets up this cycle, where they’re worried about falling so they walk a bit differently and they start holding onto things when they didn’t previously. And all those things actually increase their risk of falls. So it’s almost as if their trying to fall less makes them fall more. In some respects, yes. I think people change their behaviour. And as a result, that changes the way they walk, changes how balanced they are when they’re walking along, and as a consequence, it probably does put them at increased risk of falls. So it’s a good job that we can do something about that then.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds The fear of falling is really interesting, and there’s been some recent research suggesting that there are specific treatments that we can use to help people with fear of falling. So fear of falling is one risk factor that increases someone’s risk of falling again. What about other risk factors? What are risk factors and what do we do? Well, a risk factors is anything that increases your risk of something happening. So if there are things that we look for in the clinic that might increase the likelihood of somebody having a fall, then things like changing the way they walk and something we call gait, changes in their balance, those are all things that increase the risk of falling.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds We also know that taking medication increases your risk of falling. And it’s not necessarily the type of medication. What the evidence suggests is that if you’re taking four or more different types of tablet, that that increases your risk. And that by having your tablets reviewed, and subsequently reduced, could improve any risk that you might have. The other thing as well that we know is a risk is if people drop their blood pressure when they stand up. And so if people get a bit dizzy or lightheaded when they stand very quickly, then again that’s another recognised risk factor.

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 seconds So there’s a few things that you’ve mentioned there that might be helpful to people who have had a fall or are worried about that they might have a fall. So they could think about whether their walking has changed, whether they feel unsteady on their feet, whether they’re on lots of medication, or whether they get dizzy when they stand up. Those are the kind of people who might be at increased risk of falling. Yes, absolutely. They’re the sort of people that we frequently see in clinic. And when we’re asking somebody about falls, those are the types of questions we ask them. Have they experienced or noticed those particular things.

Skip to 3 minutes and 29 seconds Because we know there are treatments that we can use or modifications that we can make that reduce the risk of them having another fall. It’s all very complicated, isn’t it? We know that there are risk factors for falls, and part of your job as the detective is to tease out which ones are important for an individual and how to direct their treatments. Yes, it can be quite complicated. We call it a multi-factorial intervention. So we’re looking at different factors and taking the individual ones. Because we know that actually just targeting one specific risk factor might not necessarily reduce the likelihood of somebody having another fall.

Skip to 4 minutes and 11 seconds It’s having that sort of wide-ranging view and taking lots of different risk factors and modifying them that will reduce the overall risk of somebody having another fall.

Meet the expert: Professor Julia Newton on risk factors

In the second of our ‘meet the expert’ series Julia talks about the concept of fear of falling and goes on to talk about risks associated with falls.

We will explore these risk factors in more detail over the coming steps and learn how to address them in Week 3 and Week 4.

  • Do you recognise any of the risks mentioned by Julia?

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Newcastle University

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