The fear of falling
One in four people over the age of 70 suffers from gait disturbance. To prevent falls, specific treatment should be given. In the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, Klaus Jahn and colleagues describe methods of differential diagnosis and therapy (Dtsch Arztebl Int 107: 306-16). Gait disturbance is defined as unsteadiness during walking that is worse than the normal slowing of old age. It often has multiple causes; in elderly patients, fear is often a precipitating or aggravating factor. A vicious circle often arises in which fear of falling leads to avoidance of movement, and in turn to reduced fitness, lower confidence in one's own balance, increased fear, and increased danger of a fall. Depression and a markedly impaired quality of life can result.
In order for the treatment to be as effective as possible, the type of gait disturbance and its causes must be precisely analyzed. In their article, Jahn et al. present effective diagnostic methods. For example, the observation of parameters such as step length, speed, body posture, and variability while the patient walks a given distance, once with eyes open and once with eyes closed, enables classification of the type of gait disturbance.
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Study: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions
- Penn medicine researchers predict sudden cardiac death risk
- FSU chemistry professor explores outer regions of periodic table
- New diagnostic instrument sees deeper into the ear
- Symmetry crucial for building key biomaterial collagen in the lab