Inner-Ear Imbalance Often Causes Falls Among Elderly
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Jun 04, 2009 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Researchers at Johns Hopkins may have unlocked potentially lifesaving clues to solving one of the most dangerous traumas facing the elderly and it may have to do with inner-ear imbalance, or vestibular dysfunction.
Until now, doctors and researchers have blamed elderly falls on bone weakness, vision impairment and gait problems. Now, researchers have found that vestibular dysfunction may be a significant reason for life threatening falls.
The vestibular system in the inner ear is made up of three semicircular canals and two otolith organs that continuously send messages to the brain about the heads rotation as well as its orientation relative to gravity. Humans keep their balance using the vestibular systems signals, along with visual cues and touch sensations. When the inner-ear signaling process is disrupted, it directly affects a persons ability to maintain equilibrium.
People with an inner-ear imbalance commonly suffer dizziness or vertigo. The study showed that those who are asymptomatic are still three times more likely to fall than healthy adults.
The recent findings will provide doctors with valuable information on how to implement preventive care measures Doctors are now hopeful that screening for such conditions will lead to fewer falls. and ultimately save lives.
One-quarter of Americans who suffer a hip fracture after a fall die within six months of the injury. An estimated 35% of Americans over the age of 40 roughly 69 million people suffer from vestibular dysfunction. By age 60 and older, inner-ear imbalances strike more than half of all Americans.
What some may not realize is that the fall itself is not always the culprit. Instead, the fall is the catalyst for numerous other complications that can deteriorate your health and even be fatal.
Falls may trigger pneumonia, depression, infection and muscle loss. A fall can also trigger a psychological response that prevents people from becoming mobile and active again. Immobility can prevent you taking deep breaths, making you more prone to pneumonia as well as skin breakdown, pressure sores, bladder infection and lung infection.
Falls in the elderly are serious business. We have seen many cases of falls at nursing homes that were avoidable and preventable. We have also seen many residents die as a result of fractures and brain injuries caused by a fall. Sadly, some residents give up after a fall. Don't let this happen to you or your loved one.
Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice, S.C. is a Wisconsin law firm with a devoted nursing home abuse practice. Our nursing home abuse and neglect trial team has successfully represented abused and neglected nursing home residents in Wisconsin and Illinois.