Falls can diminish your ability to lead an active and independent life. About one third of people over the age of 65 and almost half of people over the age of 80 will fall at least once this year. There usually are several reasons for a fall. Physical therapists can help you reduce your risk of falling by:
- Assessing your risk of falling
- Helping you make your home as safe as possible
- Educating you about the medical risk factors linked to falls
- Designing individualized exercises and balance training
What Are Falls?
The reasons for falls are complex and include:
- Being 80 years old or older
- Leg muscle weakness
- Difficulty with balance or walking
- Vision problems (cataracts, macular degeneration, wearing bifocals)
- Medical conditions that limit your ability to get around, such as Parkinson disease, stroke, diabetes, etc
- Conditions that cause confusion, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Taking more than 4 medications at the same time or psychoactive medications (such as sedatives or antidepressants)
- Using a cane or other walking device
- Home hazards (throw rugs, pets underfoot)
- Low blood pressure
The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk. The factors associated with the greatest fall risk are:
- A history of previous falls
- Balance problems
- Leg muscle weakness
- Vision problems
- Taking more than 4 medications or psychoactive medications
- Difficulty with walking
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Based on the evaluation results, your physical therapist will design an exercise and training program to improve your balance and strength. A recent systematic review of many published studies found that exercise-based programs in the home or in group settings are effective in preventing falls. These programs are especially effective when balance exercises are performed in a standing position without using much arm support.
Balance training has been shown to be an important and effective part of falls prevention. Your physical therapist will design exercises that challenge your ability to keep your balance, including such exercises as single-leg standing.
Go to GreenhausPT’s website to make an appointment today or to get more information on fall prevention.
Data courtesy Moverforwardpt.com