Physical Therapists Treat Balance Issues
Did you know that seventy five percent of Americans older than 70 years are diagnosed as having “abnormal” balance? That is 3 out of every 4 people! Balance problems increase by almost thirty percent in people at least 80 years old.2 According to the Center of Disease of Control, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Of those who fall, twenty to thirty percent suffer moderate to severe injuries.1
Many different factors can cause balance problems including muscle weakness, joint stiffness, inner ear problems, certain medications, lack of activity, a sedentary lifestyle or simply aging. Balance issues can also be caused by medical conditions such as neurological conditions, brain injury, arthritis, cognitive diseases and Diabetes. Balance issues occur when one or more of the following four body systems are not working properly: vision, inner ear (vestibular system), muscular system and proprioception (awareness of where your body is in space).
Physical therapists can help improve balance, reduction and prevention of falls. Physical therapists will treat balance problems by identifying their causes and coming up with an individualized treatment plan that includes activities in the clinic and a home exercise program. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises for both static balance (standing still) and dynamic balance (keeping your balance while moving). Physical therapists will also help to reduce fear of falling. We can help improve confidence in your balance, walking and ability to perform daily activities.
Your physical therapist can also help to improve your strength, which plays an integral role in balance. Strengthening muscles in the trunk, hip, and ankles can be especially helpful in improving balance. Poor flexibility and posture can also contribute to balance issues. Your physical therapist will assess your posture and muscular flexibility and determine exercises to improve these issues.
Lastly, your physical therapist will assess your need for and what type of assistive device to help decrease your risk of falls.
Here are some tips to reduce your risk of fall:
- Wear comfortable and safe footwear
- Remove hazards in your home including loose rugs, poor lighting and other possible obstacles
- Be cautious of unrestrained pets
- Start by standing with your back to a corner and a chair in front of you for a handhold. It is imperative to try this with support for safety
- Bring your feet together and stand upright, keeping your gaze ahead
- Hold this position for 30 seconds then relax
- Do this 3 times a day
Keep in mind, it is important to contact a health care professional if you have experienced falls, feel like you are at risk for falls or simply feel off balance. Do not hesitate to contact AZOPT for your free consultation for better direction.
- Physical therapist’s guide to balance problems. Move Forward. http://www.apta.org/BalanceFalls/. Accessed August 16, 2015.
- APTA balance and falls. http://www.moveforwardpt.com/symptomsconditionsdetail.aspx?cid=1bb9c784-a874-43b1-976f-d0de03c19f99#.VdDCVelgIjF. Accessed August 16, 2015.
- HEP2GO. http://www.hep2go.com. Accessed August 16, 2015.