About Poor Balance / Risk of Falling
Did you know that one out of three adults aged 65 and older fall each year? Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Our ability to balance when walking or moving can change for a number of reasons. As we age, there is a natural loss of balance due to slowing down of reflexes, muscle weakness and tissue changes. In addition, arthritis in the ankles, knee or hips can affect balance. Furthermore, any neurological changes such as Parkinsons Disease, spinal cord injuries, nerve injuries, back problems and much more can play a role in diminished balance.
Our ability to balance relies mainly on 3 factors. Our ability to perceive movement comes from the nerve sensors in our joints and muscles, our vision and the position of our head in space through the vestibular system in the inner ear. When any one of these factors is not optimum, our ability to balance is affected and our risk for falling greatly increases.
People are often not aware of their change in balance as changes typically occur over a long period of time. A good rule of thumb to test your balance is being able to balance on one leg for 10 seconds without a problem. If you lose your balance quickly or wobble significantly, then you are at a higher fall risk.
The good news is that there is a lot than can easily be done to improve your ability to balance, which improves your walking and makes the risk of falling significantly less.
How physical therapy helps
Physical therapy is the main treatment for poor balance and reducing the risk of falls. It begins with a thorough evaluation of your walking, balance, coordination, joint movement, range of motion and strength. In the case of neurological conditions, more testing is done to determine visual tracking and your vestibular system function, which contributes to your balance.
After discovering the root cause of your balance difficulties, we program a treatment plan that will improve your ability to balance, walk and negotiate many different uneven terrains such as grass, sand, stairs and more. In addition, if you use a cane or walker, we can instruct you in the proper use of that adaptive equipment. Physical therapy goes a long way to improving your balance and setting you on the safe path to enjoying activities you love. Call us today to learn more how we can improve your balance and walking!