By John M. Sigle, DPM, FACFAS, Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, falls and fall-related injuries are a major epidemic for seniors 65 and older and a national health problem. During 2011, over two million non-fatal fall injuries were reported for seniors treated in emergency departments and more than 600,000 were hospitalized. Over 20,000 seniors died from unintentional fall injuries and direct medical costs for falls were over $30 billion. In most cases, falls result in impaired function and quality of life and often lead to early admission in a nursing home.
There is a variety of causes and risk factors associated with falls that are documented in the literature; however, the correlation between foot and ankle pain, poor balance, and falls is significant. The good news is that a new custom-made ankle foot orthotic device has been developed to effectively reduce the risk of falls. It is particularly beneficial for patients who have difficulty walking, who are at risk of falling because of weak ankles, instability, or arthritis. It can be a benefit to a person who has suffered a stroke or other neurological problems that result in weakness, dizziness, or numbness. It also benefits anyone dependent on a cane, walker, or assistive device.
The new device improves balance and prevents falls by reducing the body’s postural sway. It stabilizes the foot and ankle when weakness and fatigue exists. Skin receptors are also stimulated providing feedback to the brain, thereby improving foot clearance and reducing the risk of tripping. The risk of falls is reduced by 30 to 60 percent.
The device has several key features that are designed to make it easy to put on. It is light weight and has a posterior leaf design to aid in foot clearance. It is custom made to maximize somatosensory feedback and does not contain any laces or latches. The device eliminates abnormal motion and weakness around the ankle, has no hard surfaces, provides cushion in the foot plate, and provides added arch support and Velcro latching for easy closure.
This device is covered by Medicare and most major commercial insurances. The device is considered to be a long-term solution to be used in combination with a fall prevention strength training program that may lead to physical therapy, making the necessary environmental changes in the home, and a review of the patient’s current medications.
Falls can lead to life threatening injuries such as hip fractures. Take action now to prevent a fall or fall-related injury from happening.
To determine if you are a candidate for the new device and qualify for reimbursement, complete the Moore Balance Functional Fall Risk Assessment Tool and schedule an appointment with the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois at 217-787-2700. We are located at 2921 Montzale Drive, Springfield, IL 62704.Back to Top