Ataxia – One of Many Causes of Falling
Have you fallen this year, or has someone you love fallen? At my age or older, almost half of us will fall this year! Most of us know of someone who has recently fallen, and there are many articles written about the subject. Professionals dedicate a lot of effort to help people prevent falls. But the numbers keep rising. Why?
Among the reasons for the rise are ataxias -- balance disorders caused by changes in the back of the brain. Technically, ataxia is incoordination or clumsiness of movement that is not the result of muscle weakness but is caused by cerebellar, vestibular, or proprioceptive sensory dysfunction. A specific type of ataxia – a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular genetic disorder called Friedreich's ataxia (FA) – affects about one in 50,000.
Experts tell us that as we age, most of us suffer some shrinking of our brain. We actually lose brain cells! When that happens, our ability to maintain balance is affected. Apparently when we lose our balance even a little bit our brain isn't giving us the signal in time, so we cannot correct ourselves and fall as a result. A neurologist told me that when this happens, our brain is not sending a signal to our feet to move and correct an imbalance.
There are more of us aging around the world, and fewer young people to care for us. Older folks need to be more careful, but that's not a perfect solution. We need mobility aids to augment our walking or standing.
So, give yourself a break. Some things you can fix; some you cannot! Just make the things you can’t fix better by being more deliberate and careful. Take measures to ensure that you are safe and stable, especially at night. Most of us old-timers have to get up at least once a night. Unfortunately bladders shrink, just as the brain does!
We at LifeWalker don't want you to fall. Here is a link to a web site with useful information to help prevent falling for those of us at risk: learnnottofall.com/