A common fear I often encounter amongst my senior patients and their families is the fear of falling. This fear is not unwarranted either; according to the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, falls are the number one cause of Emergency Room visits and hospital stays for older adults. These falls can result in anything from minor bone breaks to major head traumas and even, in extreme cases, death. Ensuring that our senior patients are retrained to gain back their control of balance is an absolute must. Regaining balance can give them back the freedom to move around their home, safely.
As we age we find that balance can often be affected. Unfortunately, many people think that this change in balance and stability is a common aspect of the aging process that they simply must accept and live with. However, nothing could be further from the truth; a trained physical therapist can begin a regiment of exercises specifically created to help patients to regain their balance and stability.
When I come into a person’s home one of the first things I check is their gait and balance. This helps me to assess if they are feeling unstable and are fearful of falling. In some cases patients can be so afraid of falling that they will move around their home as little as possible; obviously not healthy, but completely understandable.
GO Physical Therapy’s certified and well-trained therapists can help patients to experience and once again enjoy the freedom of movement without fear, whether inside or outside of their home. The patient is taken through a series of individualized exercises that help to “re-program” muscle groups; improving stability and empowering the patient with a new sense of confidence in their ability to navigate through their daily routine safely.
One of the approaches that I and my staff utilize to help our patients regain balance is a progressive exercise routine that focuses on various intensities, according to ability. This progressive program of exercise is one of the most effective ways to help prevent falls with patients and is highly regarded as one of the best approaches for patients to regain confidence in moving throughout their home.
Balance can be brought back with a series of movements that help to retrain the body, working on specific areas to bring back strength and stability. Working on the patient’s center of gravity, or center of mass, can help strengthen that area so that it once again becomes strong enough to hold the majority of the natural pull we typically feel when standing or moving. Utilizing a structured exercise program will generally begin with a “warm up,” followed by specific gait and balance training exercises, and finishing with a cool down. Continuing this structured program regularly has been proven to increase balance, strength, and gait in patients; helping them to regain their balance and prevent falls.
The Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy (vol. 34, issue 3 and pgs.100-103) has studied the effects of balance and fall training, verifying that there is between 35%-40% decrease in falls with those patients who work directly with a qualified physical therapist in a regular exercise regiment specifically geared for balance and fall prevention treatment.
I encourage you to contact our office if you or someone you love lives in fear of falling. Our experienced physical therapists will work within your home, or the home of a loved one, to systematically develop an action plan that will help them to improve their balance and stability. The end result will be a renewed sense of confidence and freedom as they move about.
Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being,