Balance & Falls Prevention
Each year more than one-third of adults in the United States age 65 and older fall, and 20% to 30% of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries. As we age the ability to maintain balance becomes more difficult. Many factors contribute to good balance; some of them are biological, and some are able to be influenced and improved. Balance and stability are important factors for aging adults to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as loss of balance is the primary factor in falls, which often results in serious injuries. Physical therapists are an essential part of a patient’s healthcare team, and can help to prevent falls, injuries, and identify those who are at risk for falling.
How Can Balance Physical Therapy Help?
Physical therapists see and treat a variety of conditions related to pain caused by falls and can also work with patients to identify and address the risk factors that put patients at a higher risk of falls or injury from falls. We work with our patients to assess and address factors including medication side effects, weakness, vitamin deficiency, poor vision, pain, footwear, home environment, and balance. Most falls occur as a result of any combination of these risk factors, many of which can be addressed through our Balance and Fall Prevention physical therapy plan.
Rehabilitation approaches may include:
- Therapeutic exercise to improve strength
- Balance-specific training to improve balance and vestibular function
- Home safety assessments and recommendations to remove throw rugs, install grab bars and handrails.
- Patient education regarding footwear or assistive device use such as canes or walkers
- Communication with primary physicians and pharmacists regarding patient medication
By screening our patients for risk factors, regardless of fall history, and assessing strength, balance, vision, gait pattern, and reviewing medications and home environment, a certified physical therapist may be able to identify those at risk for falls even before they fall and implement different balance exercises and other strategies to reduce those risks.
Contact a clinic near you to find out how physical therapy may be able to help with balance training and fall prevention treatment.