November is Falls Prevention Month
We bring you some thoughts on the topic. Here’s #3 in a series:
ADD A 3RD POINT OF CONTACT AND PREVENT A FALL
Did you try the balance test? [see it here: The Segway vs. the Tricycle] If you did, you know that we need every one of our faculties – eyesight, inner ear sensors, pressure feedback, cognitive power, and leg strength – to walk on two feet. So what can we do to remain safe and mobile when the system starts to age?
It’s simple: Add a third point of contact. Because, like The Segway vs. the Tricycle, three point contact doesn’t require multiple sensors and massive processing power. If you are on two legs, just touching something solid will situate you in space when the other senses no longer reliably can. It’s why we’ve used canes for millennia, and why an aging person instinctively runs a hand along the wall when she walks down the hall.
Which brings us to handrails. Continuous handrails provide that third point of contact and, if they did nothing else, they would still be essential to compensate for the difficulty in walking on two legs that comes with age. But handrails do something more. Unlike a hand on the wall, or even a cane, a grip on a properly designed handrail will completely stop a fall when all other systems fail.