COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Need to Assess Your Risks to Prevent Falls

Article featured on CORA Physical Therapy

Know Your Risks Beforehand and Be Proactive to Effectively Manage Your Health Care Needs

Losing balance as we age is something that most of us accept as inevitable. Dizzy spells, reaching out to steady yourself on a countertop or second thoughts about going for a walk with the grandchildren all are understandable concerns.

We know that one in three people 65 or older fall every year is due to a lack of practice and misuse of the systems in the body that contribute to balance.  What many people did not anticipate is how a global pandemic could throw our population into sedentary lifestyle, speeding up a loss of balance in the course of a year versus what may have normally happened over a period of several years.

The Impacts of Inactivity and Deconditioning

Numerous articles studying activity levels during lockdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic repeatedly cite a significant reduction in activity levels, an increase in sedentary lifestyles, increased anxiety and increased depression across age groups and populations. With the general decrease in activity levels and deconditioning over the last two years, it is no surprise that a survey conducted by the National Poll on Healthy Aging showed that 25% of respondents aged 50-80 had a fall between March 2020 and January 2021, and 40% of those had fallen more than once during the same time period. The good news is you are much more in control of improving your balance than you might think.

A simple fall can be devastating, causing a fractured hip, pelvis or spine. These events can result in a lowered quality of life, a visit to the hospital, or worse. If a fall can literally be a matter of life or death, it’s imperative to routinely visit the doctor and take steps on your own to ensure that you can stay active safely in your later years.

According to Jordan Cuenin, PT, DPT, clinic manager at CORA PT in Easley, South Carolina, “A fear of falling is common among individuals who have experienced a similar event. This phobia can be debilitating as it can limit one’s motivation to participate in activities, including attendance at social events. Not only is the fear of falling real, but experiencing a fall also increases your chances of falling again twofold.”

Balancing As We Age

Our ability to balance relies on the combination of information from the eyes, inner ears, joints and muscles. When all these systems are working well together, you’re well-balanced. As we age, so do the small bones in our ears, and our vision can suffer as well. Loss of appetite, reduced food intake, and decreased activity can make the joints and muscles suffer. It takes two to three weeks of inactivity or decreased activity for strength losses to become apparent. For many of us, even those who were previously active, the pandemic forced us into a sedentary lifestyle for many months. This can result in losses of strength, power, and cardiovascular health.

For the most part, the solution to balance issues is straightforward. Increasing daily movement in a gradual but challenging way is the key. Moving away from a sedentary lifestyle has immense benefits for everyone, and it’s even more important as we age.

“Keep moving. All too often, I see regular activity become less frequent as people age and retire, leading to deconditioning in all areas of health,” Cuenin reiterated.

We do not have to accept having a fall as a part of life just because we’re aging and are living through a pandemic. If you notice issues with loss of balance or perhaps light-headedness in situations where you’d normally feel in control, or if you feel unstable as you return to your prior level of activity, it’s time to schedule a visit with your doctor or a physical therapist.

Virtual and In-Person Fall Risk Screens

CORA Physical Therapy offers virtual and in-person fall risk screens. A therapist can assess your risk of falling in a matter of minutes, while being able to provide you with options on how to proceed with your care and how to reduce your risk of falls if need be. Whether you’re getting back into an active lifestyle after a long, sedentary pandemic, or whether you’re just trying to stay healthy, a personalized program can be prescribed for home use or implemented in a clinic, to target patient-specific needs. Treatment options can range from exercises to increase function of the inner ear to exercises for rebuilding strength in your legs, or specific balance activities to improve confidence and stability. If you can’t make it into a clinic, our therapists can provide telehealth visits and/or a home exercise program and safety checklist for decreasing your risk of falls within your home environment.

But what does the process look like? Is it really possible to go from feeling unsteady to regaining that confident spring in your step? Yes! If you don’t want to go through the lengthy process of having a doctor diagnose you with an issue before seeing a physical therapist, in many states you can see a physical therapist for up to 30 days without a doctor’s intervention.

Want to Achieve a Steady, Healthy Life? We Can Help.

Knowing your risks beforehand, developing a regimented exercise program and making slight modifications to your home can help prevent falls and protect you and your loved ones. Being proactive with your health is a much more cost-effective way to manage your health care needs than recovery from a fall.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

Cycling During COVID-19: How To Ride Safely

From Aventon

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world, it has also caused the cycling world to make changes to their daily lives. Not only has the pandemic led to canceled bike races across the country, but it has also led many riders to ask what cycling during coronavirus looks like.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the basics about COVID-19 to give you a better understanding of the virus so that you can take the necessary safety measures to cycleduring this time safely.

THE BASICS

Let’s start off by talking about the basics of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus for which there is no known treatment or vaccine at the moment. While it’s very likely that some of us may have experienced some kind of coronavirus at some point in our lives, recent public health studies suggest that this strain is more contagious than previous ones.

Like most viruses, COVID is spread through droplet transmission and generally presents itself as the common cold with minor respiratory ailments. However, complications may arise in varying severity; in some cases, even leading to death.

You can also contract the virus by touching an object or surface that where droplets from a cough or sneeze has landed. Once the droplets have contaminated your hands, you may inadvertently touch your nose or mouth, introducing the virus into your respiratory system.

Recent studies suggest that the virus itself may be able to survive for as long as three days on plastic, metal, or glass surfaces.

 

PRECAUTIONARY SAFETY MEASURES TO TAKE DURING THE PANDEMIC

There are a few simple steps that everyone can take to make sure they will not get the virus, or spread it. While this list is not complete with everything to help fight back against the spread of the coronavirus, it is a valuable starting point.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

As many of you have heard,social distancing is a great way to prevent further transmission of the coronavirus. This means not gathering in large groups, and always observing a distance of six feet between you and the person next to you.

Additionally, as a rule of thumb, unless you know where your companions have been and who they have been in contact over with the past 14 days, it is in the interest of your health to not risk visiting with other people at the moment. Even one gathering can mean the difference between breaking the chain of transmission.

WEAR A MASK

Droplet transmission means that an infected person can expel the virus through coughing, sneezing, or talking. If you happen to be in close proximity to them (that is, within approximately six feet), there is a chance you might inhale the virus and introduce it into your own body.

If you have to be around others in public for any reason, best practice suggests wearing a mask to protect yourself and others. Face coverings of any kind can reduce droplet transmission when we talk, cough, or sneeze.

WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY

Washing your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water after touching frequently-used items is another excellent way to prevent transmission. Time your hand washing routine so you spend at least 20 seconds covering the entire surface area of your hands with soap before rinsing.

Rubbing with hand sanitizer also works, but does not eliminate the virus as efficiently as washing with soap and water.

ADDITIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES

    • Do not touch your face.
    • Practice good hand hygiene at all times.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your shoulder, or elbow.
    • If possible, work from home to prevent unnecessary interaction with other people.
    • Keep away from being around many people as much as possible.
    • Stay home if you feel you are sick or beginning to feel sick.
    • Avoid unnecessary travel.
    • Get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep.
    • Take your vitamins.
    • Protect your immune system.
    • Exercise and eat healthy.

HOW TO SAFELY RIDE YOUR BIKE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

So, what does all of the above have to do with riding a bike?

 

Cycling is a great way to remain healthy, both physically and emotionally, while also living in a socially-distanced environment. But how can you ensure your safety, as well as the safety of others while you are cycing?

 

Well, the good news is that cycling not only carries minimal risk of transmission of COVID-19, it’s also extremely unlikely to contract COVID-19 while cycling, especially while riding on your own. However, just to be safe, let’s take a look at a few recommendations for the next time you feel like going for a ride.

 

First and foremost, if you think you have been exposed, self-quarantine. As unfortunate as this will sound, this is of utmost importance.

 

Unless you get tested, you cannot be certain that you are not carrying the virus, even if you are not exhibiting symptoms. Stay home to avoid the risk of infecting others. Restrictions include not riding outdoors until you have been self-quarantined for at least 14 days.

 

If you plan on cycling with a group of others, keep a minimum of six feet of space when riding with the group. Furthermore, it’s recommended not to ride with people who reside outside of your household or if you have not discussed how each one of you has been quarantining.

 

Additionally, when you find yourself need to pass someone on the road or on the bike lanes, try to give as wide a berth as possible to make sure both parties are adhering to social distancing best practices.

SHOULD YOU WEAR A MASK WHEN RIDING?

CDC guidelines have recently been updated to urge people to wear fabric face coverings in any public setting where social distancing measures cannot strictly be ensured (i.e., grocery stores, bike shops). So, what does this mean for athletes and people who exercise outdoors?

 

Read more: eBike Laws and How They Impact Riders

 

Well, it is not a situation to take lightly. While you may not need to wear a mask while you are cycling by yourself, you should bring one along in the event of an emergency or if you need to stop at a store to grab a drink. Face coverings do two great things:

  1. They prevent spread from the ill and protect against inhalation in healthy individuals.
  2. They are highly effective when used correctly.

 

The objective of the mask is not only to protect yourself from the virus, but also to protect others from it, as well. The asymptomatic spread of the virus remains a critical concern, which means someone might have the ability to spread the virus to other people without knowing they even contracted it.

You can never be sure if the person next to you is infected, or if you yourself are. Wearing a mask by default could greatly help in decreasing the transmission of this highly contagious virus.

 

 


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

How COVID Has Impacted Bone Health and What You Can Do About It Right Now

From YouAreUNLTD by Feel It In Your Bones

Osteoporosis is often described as “a silent disease.” During COVID, this has never been more true. Bone health took a back seat. Health assessments, bone density testing and sometimes treatment itself were upended by the pandemic. This disruption in care may have serious, long-term consequences for patients.“The impact is going to be seen both immediately and down the line, as we see people not getting diagnosed, not getting treated,” says Dr. Vivien Brown, a family physician, assistant professor with the department of family and community medicine, University of Toronto. “And ultimately, we may see an increase in fracture risk and fracture rate. And now, six months into COVID when we’re referring patients for bone density tests, there is a backlog.”

Screening for osteoporosis is critical, according to Dr. Brown, especially for women over the age of 50. More than breast cancer, more than heart attacks or stroke, women are most likely to experience a fracture due to weakened bones. Medical intervention to prevent or treat osteoporosis, as well as the adoption of healthy lifestyle behaviours, may be needed. Failing to diagnose the disease can lead to serious outcomes.

“Until they’ve had a fracture, until they’ve had an event, people don’t really have osteoporosis on their radar as a concern,” explains Dr. Brown, who just updated her book, A Woman’s Guide to Healthy Aging (to be published in January 2021). When COVID hit, the focus for healthcare was on providing essential services only. Bone density testing was not considered essential.”

Long-term consequences of the care gap

These interruptions have caused a care gap, making incidents like hip fractures an even greater concern. The research is alarming – 28 per cent of women and more than 37 percent of men over the age of 80 die in the first year after a hip fracture. “It can be a life-altering event, if not a life-ending event,” she says. “We really need to still maintain our level of vigilance around osteoporosis. And I don’t think that’s happening day to day in the medical community.”

Furthermore, she points out that hip fractures can become family tragedies, according to Dr. Brown. “Some patients can’t return home to live independently. They may not be able to walk without assistance. They may not ever be able to drive again. It really alters their quality of life, which impacts the entire family…. The way I think about osteoporosis is that it is not just a bone disease. Osteoporosis is your independence on the line.”

As the impact of COVID has rippled across the country, continuity of care for osteoporosis patients has suffered. For those who were prescribed injectable medications, missed shots were an issue. “The consequences are really significant because the benefits of an injectable medication are completely reversible,” points out Dr. Brown. “That means when you get past that six-month window where you’re supposed to get your next injection, if you go more than a month or so, you start to reverse the benefits you’ve had because the drug is out of your system. That reversal actually increases your risk of fracture. It’s really important to stay on schedule with this medication. It means being creative – either seeing your doctor for the injections, getting it from a pharmacist, or learning how to self-inject. Just delaying an injection is not acceptable.”

During COVID, the focus on osteoporosis decreased. Good lifestyle habits also waned as people stayed home. Sedentary behaviour and poor dietary habits increased, while the ability to exercise in a gym and access to healthy food was negatively impacted. “A number of my older patients who live at home alone and don’t want to go to the grocery store are not eating healthy diets,” she says. “And if they’re not checking in with their doctor and not being reminded of what they need to do – something gets forgotten or left by the wayside.”

“The Way I Think About Osteoporosis Is That It Is Not Just A Bone Disease. Osteoporosis Is Your Independence On The Line.”

Issues with fracture follow-up

The pandemic has had a profound impact on our social support systems, too, especially when someone goes into the hospital with a fracture. Due to safety protocols, they cannot have their partners or someone else with them to be present to listen to a doctor’s instructions post-discharge. It’s concerning to Dr. Brown who fears that something will be overlooked. “If you’re in the hospital by yourself, it may be scary and you may be in pain,” she says. “You may not hear what the doctor is saying clearly. You get your cast or have the fracture treated, then get sent home. I don’t know that people are getting good follow up care.”

That lack of follow-up has a direct impact on continuity of care – a key component in successful osteoporosis management. “In some ways, osteoporosis is like hypertension. Patients often don’t feel it,” she notes. “Maybe they take their drugs for a couple of months, but then stop taking them if the meds are not easily accessible, if they don’t understand them, or not feeling the impact of the disease… It’s important to adhere to whatever has been prescribed.”

Now, it’s time to get back on track and to make bone health a priority again. How do we do that? Here are a few pointers from Dr. Brown:

6 ways to get back on track with your bone health during COVID

  1. Contact your doctor for a health review, which should include a discussion of osteoporosis prevention and ensuring you’re up-to-date with any medications to treat the disease.
  2. Let your doctor know whether you’ve had a recent fracture. A fracture may need to be investigated further to rule out osteoporosis as an underlying cause.
  3. Take an easy online test to determine your risk of a fracture. The FRAX fracture assessment tool can be done in just a few minutes and will look at key factors to calculate how likely you are to experience a fracture in the next 10 years.
  4. Have your risk for osteoporosis assessed by a healthcare provider. Factors that heighten your risk include: low body weight, family history of osteoporosis or broken bones from a minor injury, lifestyle behaviours (smoking, having three or more alcoholic drinks a day, and being sedentary), certain medical conditions (like rheumatoid arthritis), being a woman over the age of 50, and certain medications.
  5. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it’s time to schedule a bone density test. It is recommended that all women and men over age 65 have routine bone density tests. Men and women from the age of 50 to 64 with risk factors for fractures should also be tested.
  6. Resume good habits, like eating a diet with adequate vitamin D and calcium, exercising and sitting less.

 

 


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

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