Falls are the leading cause of injury, death, and emergency room visits for people over age 65 years.  Falls also rank highly for those under 65 years, despite what most people believe, or want to believe.  Some falls are unavoidable and happen purely by accident.  Unfortunately however, many are not.  Many individuals suffer from imbalance, and because the brain is so good at compensating for things, imbalance typically goes unnoticed until a fall actually occurs.  This usually happens when back up balance systems, such as visual reliance become excessively relied upon unconsciously, and then when they are not permitted to assist in balance, i.e. while walking at night and changing surfaces from a sidewalk to grass, which is much softer than cement, balance loss and a fall occurs. In the elderly however, there is more going on here than is obvious.  As humans age, the spine undergoes arthritic changes which typically begin immediately following maturation of bone, around the third decade.  These arthritic changes become observable in the 4th-5th decade for most, and by the 6th decade, become more significant.  Due to the arthritic changes in the spine, the ocular reflexes, which are in fact programmed early in age and are hard wired to the spine, are now on a different frequency than the aging spine.  It is actually this phenomena that predisposes imbalance and thus falls particularly as we age.  If these reflexive movements are not corrected for, they do not correct themselves and will only worsen with age and increased spinal degeneration. These changes are only permanent if no effort is put into reversing them.  Ask any elder who has been a patient of mine.  Most all of my patients over 55 have high fall risk associated with imbalance at the onset of treatment, and at the time of discharge, are normal, or at least significantly improved, pending their overall level of health.  In fact, imbalance is the chief presenting complete for many of my adult, (as well as younger) patients, either standalone or associated with side affects from vertigo.  The point of all this is that as we age, it is important to retrain the ocular reflexes to match that of what the spine is doing to prevent imbalance and falls.  And this exactly what I spend much of my day doing for my patients.  It is actually not very complicated or lengthy treatment, it just involves a commitment to be evaluated for balance and stability once, and then given recommendations to follow, which, are usually quite simple, much of which individuals can be easily instructed on to perform at home.



Swine flu has certainly made its way into the media.  Each day, several of my patients ask my opinion as to whether or not the vaccine is a good idea for them and their families.  So here is my opinion.  First, let’s keep things in perspective.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), around 15,000 people die in the USA each year from falls.  36,000 people die every year from regular flu.  The World Health Organization, (WHO), reports ~4 million cases of flu world wide each year, from which some 300,000 deaths will occur.  Since most of these deaths occur in third world countries, it doesn’t provoke a media response such as that associated with swine flu here in the USA.

I am not a proponent of flu vaccines.  There is much in the literature to suggest that with respect to flu vaccines, they do not work. Making matters worse, there are known side affects which can be severe.  By now I am sure many reading this article have seen the video going around the internet of the Washington Redskins cheerleader who is alleged to have been crippled with Dystonia following a seasonal flu shot.

Many readers may recall in 1976, the swine flu ordeal from which very few people actually got sick, yet following a vaccination hype, hundreds developed Guillan-Barre’ syndrome, a crippling neurologic degenerative disorder.  Since pharmaceutical companies have virtual immunity from legal actions from vaccine related deaths/disorders, it would appear that the absolute safety of said vaccines would not be as high on the agenda as it ought to be.

Hygiene is of utmost importance during flu season.  If you are sick, stay home, that simple.  Whenever you touch money, one if the biggest carriers of germs, do not touch yourself or food/drink without sanitizing first either with soap/water, or with a alcohol based hand sanitizer.  Immunocompromised individuals should wear a mask in public places.  Keeping ones immune system working effectively in the first place, something that has been largely neglected by the vast majority of our society, is integral, especially during flu season.  Information on healthy eating and on exercise/fitness can be found on my website, and virtually anywhere on the internet.