Falling is serious business for anyone, but particularly for senior citizens. According to Nymbl Science, falling is the most common cause of accidental death among adults 65 and older. Seniors visit emergency rooms because of falls every 17 seconds. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), in 2013 direct medical costs of falls in the U.S. alone topped $34 billion and the average hospital cost for treating a fall was $35,000. Perhaps the greatest concern with falling among older people is the increasing risk of broken bones, especially hips, with natural bone density decrease and the threat of osteoporosis. Balance doesn’t do anything for bone density, but if people didn’t fall as often, there wouldn’t be as many broken hips.
Balance skills peak among humans in their 20s and then gradually decline. The founder of Nymbl is an orthopedic surgeon whose mission is helping people retain their balance with a combination of cognitive problem solving and specific physical exercises. He believes that the incidence of falls can be reduced, and a study published by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) provides evidence that supports this view.
Nymbl Science has a short test anyone can take that gives you a single balance score derived from three standard tests for stability, movement, and strength. You can take the test at GetNymbl.com using a smartphone browser. When you complete the test your combined score from 0 to 100 is reported along with how you compare to people in your age group. You can also use the test to measure progress in an exercise program designed to improve balance. The test consists of five exercises and takes just a few minutes to complete. When I took the test my score of 47 was in the 60th percentile for my age group. Looks like I can use some work on my balance.
Nymbl is developing ankle bracelets with integrated balance sensors to complement their balance and cognitive exercise routines, but no release time has been announced. With the rapid proportional population increase of older people and the potential for longer lives, the Nymbl products address a pressing need. Even the free test can help to raise balance consciousness and make the point that you can do something about your own balance and not just let it degrade over time.