Latest post: 
Universal Access to Healthcare: Tackling the Unique Callenges of Canadians with Disabilities as Seniors Population Rises

Prevent Falls This Fall 2018

This piece is a contribution by Dr. Eoghan O’Shea, a family physician at The Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus. He is passionate about fall prevention and works with medical residents in family medicine.All month long, Dr. O’Shea will contribute to the content of Demand a Plan in honour of Fall Prevention Month.

Many things can contribute to a person’s risk of falling. But what are some of the steps we can take to reduce those risks? Local and provincial networks, organizations and individuals came together for the annual one-day Fall Prevention Conference on Sept. 27, 2018, in Orillia, Ontario, to discuss the importance of fall prevention and share tools and knowledge to help reduce falling risks in the community.

 At the conference, kinesiologists at Toronto Western Hospital talked about an investigative approach they’re taking to learn why people fall. By reproducing the conditions and environment that lead to falls and conducting controlled tests in which volunteers wear integrated software wearables to monitor what happens to them as they fall, professionals are able to assess very particular situations and come up with effective fall prevention strategies.[1]

Dance can be an effective way to improve balance and coordination with very low impact movement and physical activity. A presenter at Prevent Falls This Fall discussed the cognitive, functional and even behavioural benefits of dance. Dancing can be effective for people with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and for people with chronic pain, early-stage dementia or acquired brain injury, and it can help combat loneliness and social isolation when organized as a group activity.[2]

Psychologist Ken Marek spoke about social isolation and understanding different personality types, understanding your own personality, and how to effectively communicate with people with different personalities. Health care workers must understand themselves well to communicate effectively with isolated individuals.[3]

Prescription and over-the-counter medications can have a significant effect on a person’s fall risk. People should review their medications with their doctor on a regular basis to discuss how prescriptions,supplements, vitamins and alcohol consumption can affect their likelihood of falling. Doctors frequently discourage their patients from taking over-the-counter sleep aids, and it’s important to make sure a person’s vitamin D and calcium levels are appropriate to ensure that their bones stay healthy and strong, to decrease the risk of fractures and frailty.[4]

There is a correlation between hearing loss and fall risk, as structures of the inner ear affect balance and therefore mobility as well. Hearing loss and poor vestibular function can increase someone’s risk of falling. At the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, there is work being done with simulators in lab settings to explore how hearing loss can add to someone’s cognitive “load” and how hearing loss and falling affect people with certain kinds of dementia.[5]


[1] Salmoni, Al. It takes a village to prevent a fall. Presentation at the 11th Annual Fall Prevention Conference: End Falls This Fall, 2018 Sept 27.

[2] Goldberger, Miriam. What dance can do. Presentation at the 11th Annual Fall Prevention Conference: End Falls This Fall, 2018 Sept 27.

[3 ]Marek, Ken. Social isolation: a personality study. Presentation at the 11th Annual Fall Prevention Conference: End Falls This Fall, 2018 Sept 27.

[4] Gardhouse, Amanda. Falls and pharmacology.Presentation at the 11th Annual Fall Prevention Conference: End Falls This Fall, 2018 Sept 27.

[5] Campos, Jennifer. Interactions between hearing loss, and mobility during realistic, everyday challenges. Presentation at  the 11th Annual Fall Prevention Conference: End Falls This Fall, 2018 Sept 27.

What To read next:

Browse Categories

Browse articles and news updates across many topics and categories. Use the buttons below to see specific posts.
All posts