Winter weather has moved in and with it comes an increase in falls and accidents. Whether you slip shoveling snow or lose your balance getting out of your car, falls can happen anywhere and anytime. Instead of seeing a physical therapist post-fall, come see us for tips on how you can prevent falls. Our therapists won’t just treat your pain, they’ll educate you and offer peace of mind if you have any fears of falling, or hesitancies starting physical therapy.
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. Falls are responsible for 95 percent of hip injuries, which can be particularly debilitating to older adults. Even if a fall does not result in injury, it can result in a fear of falling, which may cause someone to cut back on their daily activities. And when someone is less active, they become weaker and more susceptible for more falls.
Physical therapists can help your patients reduce their risk of falling by:
- Assessing their risk of falling
- Helping them make their home as safe as possible
- Educating them about the medical risk factors linked to falls
- Designing individualized exercises and balance training
Every patient is different, so we offer numerous options for treating balance problems based on each patient’s needs. By evaluating multiple systems of the body including muscles, joints, inner ear, eye tracking ability, skin sensation, and position awareness in the joints (proprioception), we can prescribe a plan of care, plus in clinic and at home exercises.
A physical therapist will help reduce fall risk by assessing problem footwear and hazards in the home that may increase their risk of falling. They will then move onto reducing fear of falling by helping patients regain confidence in their balance and ability to move freely to perform daily activities.
After the patient is feeling confident in their abilities, a therapist will introduce exercise that progressively increases in difficulty as the patient’s skills improve. It’s important to build strength and movement skills so the patient can maintain their abilities even after they leave the clinic.
Strengthening muscles in the trunk, hip, and stomach, or “core,” can be especially helpful in improving balance. Various forms of weight training are often performed with exercise bands avoiding joint stress, but don’t let weight training scare you! Your therapist will never assign something you’re not comfortable with or ready for.
A physical therapist considers your lifestyle and daily activities so that normal movement in your joints and muscles are no longer stiff. Our ultimate goal is for our patients to no longer need us! (Or more likely, need us less and less.) We just want to get you back to living your life without pain through assessment, treatment, and education.