Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for people aged 65 and over (Allen, 2018). Most of these falls are associated with balance problems; most balance problems result from issues within the vestibular system (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
The number of falls continues to rise each year as life expectancy continues to increase (Ortman, 2014, Phillips, 2020). In 2018, over 32,000 deaths and over 8 million injuries resulted from falls among the 65+ population in the U.S. (Moreland et al., 2020). To put the significance of falls into perspective, falls account for more than four times the number of people 65 and older who died from automobile accidents during the same year (CDC Injury Center, 2018). According to the CDC, “If deaths from falls continue to increase at the same rate, the U.S. can expect 59,000 older adults will die because of a fall in 2030. (Allen, 2018)”.
Additionally, this public health crisis is placing an enormous financial strain on the Medicaid / Medicare systems with roughly $50 billion spent in 2018 on medical costs for deaths and injuries related to falls (Florence et al., 2018). Statistics indicate there is an urgent need to improve the current standard of care for reducing the escalation in deaths, injuries, and financial burden resulting from falls due to balance disorder and vestibular dysfunction.
While it is understood that falls occur for a myriad of reasons, including falls not resulting from balance disorders, balance disorders are a leading cause of falls. Research shows that improving balance will reduce falls (Kristinsdottir & Baldursdottir, 2014; Steadman et al., 2003; Yang, 2020); statistics show that reducing falls will save lives.
Preventing and reducing falls also improves quality of life. The consequences of falls in the elderly can be irreversible and extend beyond physical injury, often resulting in a downward spiral of health and quality of life. Falls can create a cycle driven by fear of falling which leads to a reluctance for engaging in physical activity, resulting in physical decline, depression, and social isolation, thus reducing quality of life (Novotney, 2019; Li, 2019).
The GyroStim is a technologically advanced and innovative device that offers significant improvements in accessibility, safety, and capabilities, overcoming many limitations of the current standard of care for addressing balance disorders in senior citizens.
Allen, K. (2018, May 18). Deaths from falls surge for elderly. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/falling-deaths-surge-for-elderly.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Fact sheet older adult falls. https://www.naccho.org/programs/community-health/injury-and-violence/older-adult-falls-prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 16). Keep on your feet-Preventing older adult falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, September 22). CDC Features. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-adult-falls/index.html
Florence CS, Bergen G, Atherly A, Burns ER, Stevens JA, Drake C. (2018). Medical costs of fatal and nonfatal falls in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, DOI:10.1111/jgs.15304
Kristinsdottir, E. K., & Baldursdottir, B. (2013). Effect of multi-sensory balance training for unsteady elderly people: pilot study of the “Reykjavik model.” Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(14), 1211–1218. https://doi.org/10.3109/09638288.2013.83545
Li, Q., Mpofu, E., Yin, C., & Turner, K. W. (2019). Perception of falls and confidence in self-management of falls among older adults. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 5054. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245054
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, June 18). Balance problems. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/balance-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20350474
Mayo Clinic. (2020, June 18). Balance problems. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/balance-problems/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350477
Moreland, B., Kakara, R., & Henry, A. (2020). Trends in nonfatal falls and fall-related injuries among adults aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2012–2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(27), 875–881. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6927a5
Novotny, A. (2019, May). The risks of social isolation. Monitor on Psychology. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation
Ortman, J. M., Velkoff, V. A., & Hogan, H., (2014). An aging nation: the older population in the United States. US Census Bureau.
Steadman, J., Donaldson, N., & Kalra, L. (2003). A randomized controlled trial of an enhanced balance training program to improve mobility and reduce falls in elderly patients. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 51(6), 847–852. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2389.2003.51268.x
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