On the up – I might be down but I can get back up


The fear of falling and more specifically the fear of not being able to get back up again following a fall, is often more terrifying for older adults than the possible injuries incurred by a fall. That’s why techniques to get back up from the floor following a fall is an integral part of Valley Leisure’s Steady and Strong exercise classes.

“If I were ever to have a fall, I now feel confident that I could use the techniques gained from the class to help me safely get back to my feet which is something I have never felt before” is how one member of the Steady and Strong class feels having attended the class for over 24 weeks.

Frances started the Steady and Strong class to help increase her strength and balance but most importantly to help reduce the chances of her having a fall. After only 6-weeks, she has improved her leg strength by being able to complete 10 chair raises in 30 seconds from an initial 8. After a further 6-weeks Frances improved to 12 chair raises in 30 seconds and she continues to gain strength improvements as she attends the sessions weekly in addition to completing other exercise at the I Can Therapy Centre and at home.

In addition to increasing Frances’ leg strength, completing the Steady and Strong classes has had a hugely positive impact upon her life. She said “The class has given me the techniques to get on and off the floor which is something that has been a concern for me recently.”

A fear of falling is recognised as a person’s anxiety towards usual or normal walking, moving or mobilising, with the perception that a fall will occur. Described as a symptom, fear of falling is common amongst older adults and can be debilitating. The fear of falling in itself may cause a reduction in everyday movement and mobilisation which in turn creates additional decline in functional ability, mobility, strength and balance further increasing the risk of falling.

There is good news however, backward chaining is a recognised technique for practicing getting down onto the floor and back up again and one that is incorporated into the Steady and Strong exercise classes delivered in Andover by Valley Leisure.

Simply, backward chaining means breaking down the movement of getting down onto the floor and then getting back up again into small steps, practicing each step until confidence is gained to progress to the next step. In time, class participants such as Frances have the confidence to complete the full movement sequence, a sequence that can be used at home or out and about should a fall occur.

The benefit of teaching the backward chaining method as part of the Steady and Strong class cannot be underestimated as explained by Exercise Therapist, Jacob Webb “Being able to get to a place of safety and ideally up off the floor following a fall is absolutely essential to prevent some of the complications that occur when people are stuck on the floor for a long time following a fall, such as dehydration, delayed medical treatment, pressure injuries or even hypothermia.”

Jacob added “Teaching people to get down and up from the floor using backward chaining is giving people the confidence to maintain their everyday activities and go about their daily lives as they have less fear of falling due to more self-confidence in being able to get back up again.”

Falling is a huge concern for health and social care services especially as falling is preventable and not an inevitable part of ageing. Hampshire County Council’s Public Health Team report that nearly 80,000 people aged 65 and over have experienced a fall within the last 12 months across the County.

Just over 17,100 calls were made to the Hampshire Ambulance Service in Hampshire in 2017/18 for a falls related incident, less than half were conveyed to hospital indicating that the majority of people may not have been injured but needed help to get up from the floor. Had these people known about and been taught how to get up from the floor using backward chaining, a good proportion of ambulance call outs could have been prevented thereby diverting essential resources to emergencies.

Valley Leisure’s I Can Therapy Centre team deliver three Steady and Strong group exercise classes per week at St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Weyhill Road. Each class lasts one hour and includes tailored exercise to warm-up, mobilise joints, strengthen muscles, improve balance, increase flexibility, increase coordination of movement and cool down. Backward chaining to get down and up from the floor is also included as part of each session.

Classes are delivered as a course of 6 sessions, costing £36 per course; and are designed to help people improve strength and balance and get up from the floor; enabling people to live independently for longer and avoid falls.

For more information or to book a place on the next Steady and Strong exercise courses starting in June, contact I Can Therapy Centre on 01264 568241, email info@icantherapycentre.co.uk or visit www.icantherapycentre.co.uk.

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