Physiotherapy Clinic in Ville-Saint-Laurent

Fall in the elderly: causes and prevention

The population of Quebec, like the vast majority of Western countries, is aging. The evolution of our society allows older people today to have a more active lifestyle than before. To this effect, we place a high value on autonomy and home care. Nevertheless, a simple fall can turn an independent life into a dependent one. In Quebec, there are 14,000 hospitalizations following a fall of adults aged 65 and over each year. 20% of people in this age bracket who have suffered a hip fracture as a result of a fall, die within one year. 

 

Causes

It is known that between 30% and 50% of falls are related to environmental factors. Researchers have identified a number of hazards, at home and in public places, that contribute to falls. Tripping objects, poor lighting, slippery or uneven surfaces or stairs are common risk factors. 

 

The weakening of the body due to age can be accentuated by poor life habits. A sedentary lifestyle, a diet low in protein and calcium, as well as alcohol, all have consequences for the health of our bones. These habits make older populations even more vulnerable and increase the probability that a fall will occur and the resulting consequences will be serious (fracture). 

 

Biological and medical risk factors are also important. The aging of a person is accompanied by changes in the body (decreased muscle mass, increased fat and weakened bones). To these effects can be added a slowing down of reflexes, a decrease in eyesight, in mobility and in balance. Getting around then becomes more demanding and difficult. 

 

Prevention 

Physical activity is still the best way to reduce the risk of falling. Active people are in better shape and are more alert mentally. All the reasons are good to move: social activities, sports, clubs of all kinds. 20 minutes of daily exercise or at least three times a week, can greatly help with physical maintenance. In fact, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults (65  Years & Older) is an excellent source of information with suggestions for staying active and healthy. 

  

Strength and balance contribute to stability. It is therefore important to strengthen the legs to reduce the risk of falling, due to loss of balance. There are also many activities that help improve balance. Walking is a good example. When performed with walking sticks, this activity becomes much more stable, while increasing physical activity. Swimming is also a very good choice, as is cycling and golf. 

 

It is also possible to reduce the use of medications by taking on a healthier lifestyle. Good nutrition, lots of omega-3s, good sleep habits and exercise are the ingredients for maintaining good health. It is recommended that you have your prescription medications validated every year to make sure that you have the correct dose. This will help to try to reduce the amount of medication necessary. 

 

If you feel less and less stable when you are standing, do not hesitate to contact us to evaluate your strength, stability and balance. Our team of therapists will provide you with advice on exercise, nutrition and prevention. Do not let a fall put you down! 

 

Main tips for preventing falls 

  • In your home, reduce clutter and avoid loose carpets;
  • Make sure you have easy access to the bath or shower; 
  • Wear non-slip shoes and slippers with good support;
  • Have your vision and hearing checked every year;
  • Have your prescription medications validated regularly.

 

 

 

4 tips to fight seasonal depression

Autumn is truly in full effect with the end of daylight savings time reminding us of the dark winter months ahead. But the start of the cold weather is also synonymous with seasonal depression for a large number of people. Indeed, many persons suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and envision the next 4 months as a true nightmare. Generally triggered by poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, as well as a lack of light, this disorder can affect anybody.

SAD is not a myth and should be taken seriously, as it affects many people across the country, not just in Quebec. It is a mood disorder fueled by chronic fatigue that is in itself  a symptom of an imbalance in your health. Thankfully, there are natural remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of this affliction.

 

The symptoms

Seasonal depression is very similar to clinical depression. Indeed, its symptoms are virtually the same but what differentiates the two, is that in order to have a clear diagnosis of seasonal depression, these symptoms must be felt for at least two consecutive winters. Normally, thes effects of seasonal depression start at the beginning of October and disappear completely around the month of April.

In terms of symptoms more specifically, those affected will tend to isolate themselves, have a significant decrease in energy and will experience a lot of anxiety and irritability. Furthermore, those affected will tend to gain weight and suffer from hypersomnia (excessive tiredness).  In general, people with seasonal depression will also have a depressive mood throughout the day, which in extreme cases, can lead to suicidal thoughts.

 

Tips to reduce the effects of seasonal depression

1. Change your diet

With the cold weather on its way, our lifestyle will change, and this affects our diet in many cases. In the summer, all the markets are accessible: a great amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in season are offered to us, so it is easier to include them in our diet. However, when the cold weather arrives, we tend to become more sedentary and thus quietly neglect our nutrition by prioritizing refined and processed products. By adopting a healthier diet during this difficult time, you help your body to respond better to this lack of light.

Here are some key nutrients to adopt in order to help you regain your spirits:

  • Omega 3s: These contribute to the increase in production of serotonin. Omega 3 is responsible for mood management and is associated with a general state of happiness. You can find omega-3 in oily fish, linseed and chia seeds, walnuts, etc.
  • B Vitamins: several studies suggest that people with vitamin B2, B6, B9 and B12 deficiencies often have symptoms of depression. This vitamin is found in many foods such as: green vegetables, lentils, seeds, brewer’s yeast, wheat germs, oranges, etc. Do some research on recipes to help include them more often in your diet.
  • Avoid refined and processed products during this time of the year. Of course, it is impossible to eliminate them completely but it is important to watch your consumption. It may tempt you to consume more refined and packaged foods during winter time since these often represent quick and uncomplicated meals, but remember that they will not better your symptoms. Make a habit of meal prepping that will serve as pre-prepared meals for the week.

2. Get moving!

There is no point in trying to stick to an elaborate Olympian training plan, but adding simple physical activity to your routine will reduce your sedentary level. Physical activity allows the production of endorphins and neurotransmitters associated with feelings of well-being and pleasure. For example, if you normally take the bus to the metro, why not go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air instead? In addition, if your physical activities are done outside, you will enjoy the sun’s vitamin D and this is excellent for your mood!

 

Keep in mind that seasonal depression is largely caused by lack of light during this time of year. Try to make the most of the sun as much as you can. Make sure to dress warmly and enjoy the beautiful winter of Quebec; you will feel much better after.

 

3. Surround yourself with loved ones

As we all know, emotional and social bonds are essential to happiness. With the winter season coming, many tend to lock themselves indoors and avoid social contact. Keep in mind that it is important for you, and especially during this time of the year, to continue to be social as this allows you to relieve pressure and stress.

 

4. Adopt a fixed sleep schedule

Figure out the right amount of hours of sleep that are necessary for you, and try to respect it. One trick could be to establish a sleep routine that you repeat every night so that your body gets used to it, which will help reduce your sleep problems. When a person suffers from seasonal depression, taking naps may seem like an option to get through their day. But by getting your body to sleep for a long part of the day, it can actually exacerbate your seasonal depression by making you feel groggy and will not improve your symptoms.

 

We hope this article has given you some tips for getting through this difficult season. Know that it can also be beneficial to use our services if you think you suffer from seasonal depression. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on the subject!

4 ergonomic tips for a return to work without injury

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for our clients to report having difficulty working because they feel that their work environment does not support their recovery. Indeed, the majority of the population has a job that requires sitting in front of a computer all day, which can be very harmful in the long run.

Pain due to bad working posture can go from neck pain, to tendonitis or capsulitis in the shoulder, back pain or hand numbness. To help you heal or simply to avoid injury, here are four ergonomic tips to help you get your workstation in order.

1. Your seat

First of all, we believe that adjusting your seat is the basis of good office posture. Make sure your thighs are parallel to the floor when you sit down and your feet are on the floor. You should not feel uncomfortable pressure under your thighs.

The depth of the seat is a point often forgotten, but very important. In fact, adequate depth of your seat is when it supports the thigh over its entire length without trapping the back of the knee. Check that there is no pressure on the back of the knees when your feet are well supported and your back is leaned into the back of your chair. If you feel discomfort behind your knees, it means your seat is too deep.

As for the back of your chair, it is supposed to help you keep the natural curvature of your back at the lumbar level. In fact, make sure that the height of it is positioned to support the hollow part of the back. It is also suggested to tilt the back of your chair slightly so that the weight of your upper body is partially supported to lighten the work of your back muscles.

As for the armrests, these are not mandatory if your elbows stay as close to the body as possible and your shoulders remain relaxed. However, if your armrests are well adjusted, they can still offer support to your arms and shoulders. Adjust them so that, once supported, your arms are parallel to your body and your shoulders are relaxed. Keep in mind that your armrests should not stop you from getting closer to your work surface.

2. The keyboard

In order to determine if your keyboard is in the right position, first you must make sure that when you are in your working position, your forearms are roughly parallel to the floor and your elbows are close to your body. As mentioned earlier, your shoulders and neck should be relaxed. If you cannot adjust the height of your keyboard, it is necessary to change the height of your chair to respect the aforementioned position of your forearms. Also, your wrists should stay straight; think of them as the extension of your forearms.

3. The screen

First of all, it is important that your screen is placed in front of you and not to the left or right of your field of vision. This could cause you to have eyestrain in addition to neck, shoulder and back pain. The height at which the screen should be varies and depends on your personal comfort. However, we suggest as a benchmark that your eyes be at the same level as the top of the glass part of the screen. Regarding the distance at which the screen should be, we suggest the approximate measure of one arm. On the other hand, the distance can vary according to the one of each individual.

4. Your office supplies

Place the items you use most often near your arms. For example, your phone should be easily accessible when you are sitting in front of your computer. Also, make sure there are no loose objects under your desk that encourage an unnatural posture. Do not hesitate to keep your work environment as organized as possible in order to adapt it to your needs.

We hope that these tips will help make your return to work easier this fall. Do not hesitate to contact us to make an appointment if you have questions!

How to prevent work injuries with Physiotherapy

Below you’ll find the top ten ergonomics principles to prevent work related injuries.  Also, make sure to provide the following information to your employee and if needed consult a certified physiotherapist to help you set-up a safe work environment.

1. WORK IN NEUTRAL POSTURES

Educate your employees on the correct posture that they should work in, so that they do not cause harm to their spine, shoulders, elbows or wrists. Encourage a neutral position with proper body alignment to decrease the strain and impact on joints.

2. REDUCE EXCESSIVE FORCE 

Excessive force on your joints can create potential for fatigue and injury. In practical terms, try to identify tasks that imply excessive force and think of ways to make improvements (example: reduce force on hands by producing hand holes on boxes).

3. KEEP EVERYTHING WITHIN EASY REACH 

Save muscles from overexertion by keeping objects close to you.

4. WORK AT PROPER HEIGHTS

Do most of the work at elbow height except for heavier work (best done lower than the elbow). For precision work or visually intense work, it is best done above elbow height.

5. REDUCE EXCESSIVE MOTION:

Do not hesitate to use power tools instead of manual tools to reduce repetitive movements.

6. MINIMIZE STATIC LOAD

Holding the same position for a long period is known as static load. It creates fatigue and discomfort and can interfere with work. Try using an extender for tools when working overhead to minimize static load.

7. MINIMIZE PRESSURE POINTS

Continuous contact of a body part on a hard surface can be very stressful for your joints. For example, standing on a hard surface like concrete can hurt your feet. Using an anti-fatigue mat or insoles in your shoes can decrease contact stress.

8. PROVIDE CLEARANCE

Your workspace should be set-up to provide you with a clear view and enough room around you.

9. MOVE, EXERCISE & STRETCH

The human body needs to be exercised and stretched. Alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day is ideal. Make sure to give yourself breaks when sitting in the same position for extended periods of time.

10. MAINTAIN COMFORTABLE LIGHTING

To decrease eye strain and glare problems, make sure your workspace is well lit. Also be aware of how long you stare at a computer screen during the day.

 

Questions about ergonomics? Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

Schoolbags and Back Injuries

Schoolbags and Back Injuries

It’s that time of year again: the threat of heavy schoolbags weighing down your little one is rearing its ugly head. The rise of handheld technology has not stemmed the need for kids to carry bulging backpacks full of heavy textbooks, and the risk of back pain is real and serious.

The Risks

Heavy schoolbags can result in musculoskeletal pain and in some extreme cases, persistent back pain. The damage comes in a variety of forms. Some kids might bend forwards or arch their hips, causing compression of the spine and leading to shoulder, neck and back pain. Those who carry their school bag over just one shoulder can cause strain and an imbalance in their posture, and those carrying bags with narrow straps risk circulatory problems and nerve damage. Girls and younger children are especially at risk due to their smaller size.

Ideal Backpack Use

Current research states a schoolbag should be no more than 10% of a child’s body weight. Doctors and physiotherapists also recommend:

  • Wearing the bag using both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight.
  • Standing upright to avoid hunching or rounding of the back.
  • Adjusting straps so that the bag is resting tightly against the middle of the back, not sagging down to the posterior.
  • Placing heavier items, such as text books, at the centre of the back.
  • Consider lightening the load if your child struggles to pick the bag up.

Pick The Right Bag

You can do your part to help your child avoid back pain by helping them to choose a sensible schoolbag. Some simple guidelines to follow are:

  • Pick a lightweight bag.
  • Pick a bag with two wide, padded shoulder straps.
  • Pick a bag with an extra waist belt or hip pads to compensate for those really heavy loads.
  • Choose a bag with multiple compartments, so that weight can be distributed throughout.
  • Consider a bag with a padded back, to increase comfort and avoid being poked through the material.

More than 70% of schoolchildren carry more than the recommended weight; keep your child safe this school year by investing in a practical bag and speaking to them about how to avoid back problems.

Our physiotherapist, Fawzi Charaan explains in a video (in French), how to best choose a schoolbag and how to adjust it to avoid any injury. See the video here!

Questions about schoolbags and back injuries? Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

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