Chiropractic Care Reduces Fall Risk

Did you know that many researchers think that chiropractic care can help you maintain balance and prevent you from falling over?1

As we age our risk of having a fall increases.1 Every year about one third of older people have a fall.1 Falls are the leading cause of injury related hospital admissions and deaths in older people, so they’re a major problem. 1

Let’s take a closer look at one study that was recently conducted in New Zealand that investigated whether chiropractic care could help brain function that is important to prevent falls.2

60 Auckland based older adults participated in this randomised controlled trial. Half were randomised into receiving 12 weeks of chiropractic care and the other half were a control group who didn’t get adjusted.

One of the outcome measures they looked at was called the choice stepping reaction time. This was tested by getting participants to stand on a platform that had 4 panels that could light up.

When a panel lit up they’d have to stand on it as quickly as they could.

If we take a look at this graph the red line is the chiropractic group and the blue line is the control group. The higher the line the longer it took the older people to take the fast step.

What they found was that after 4 weeks neither group had changed much in the speed that they could take a step but after 12 weeks there was a dramatic significant improvement in the chiropractic group.

The improvement seen in this study was actually 2 and a half times greater than a large clinical trial that looked at the effects of 6 months of exercise on the same stepping task.

Being able to take a fast step is really important because researchers have shown that people who are quicker at taking a step are less likely to fall.

It’s important to note that for the changes to take place it took more than four weeks of chiropractic care. This suggests that chiropractic care has a cumulative effect and it can take time for some nervous system changes to take place when you or your family start under care.

Another outcome measure the researchers in New Zealand looked at was called multisensory integration. This basically means how we process information from our different senses together to work out what’s happening in and around us.

The test they used in this study looked at how accurately the older adults combined sight and sound.

Previous research has shown that older people in general struggle to accurately process sound and visual information together and older people who have falls are particularly bad at doing this.

Because it takes them longer to combine information from their different senses it means they can’t respond appropriately if they’re faced with a potentially hazardous situation like a slip or a trip.

What the researchers in New Zealand found was that after 4 weeks the chiropractic group had become better able to accurately process sound and visual information and they got even better at it after 12 weeks.

This is pretty amazing because no one else has been able to improve this kind of multisensory processing before and we know this is important in preventing falls.

Another outcome measure the researchers looked at was joint position sense in the ankle. They found that people who received 12 weeks of chiropractic care became significantly better at knowing where their foot was compared to those who did not get adjusted.

This is really important because if your brain doesn’t know what’s going on in your ankle you may not be able to accurately sense what’s happening if you’re slipping or tripping. This may make it harder to recover from a slip and stop yourself from falling.

The interesting thing is that the chiropractors in the study didn’t do anything to the participants ankles, all they did was adjust subluxations in their spines.

Restoring proper spinal movement seems to improve the way their brains and ankles communicated, improved their brains ability to process sound and visual information and enhanced their ability to take a compensatory step. And they even felt better physically too.

Chiropractic care is an essential cornerstone of healthy aging. By restoring proper spinal function your brain is better able to perceive what’s going on in and around you.2 Make sure you see a chiropractor to help you maintain and even improve, your overall function, health and quality of life.2-4

  1. Holt KR. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care in Improving Sensorimotor Function Associated with Falls Risk in Older People University of Auckland, 2014.
  2. Holt KR, Haavik H, Lee AC, et al. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2016.
  3. Weigel PA, Hockenberry J, Bentler SE, et al. The comparative effect of episodes of chiropractic and medical treatment on the health of older adults. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014;37(3):143-54.
  4. Weigel PA, Hockenberry JM, Wolinsky FD. Chiropractic use in the Medicare population: prevalence, patterns, and associations with 1-year changes in health and satisfaction with care. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014;37(8):542-51.