Autumn officially begins today. The leaves will soon begin to turn. The air will get crisper and yes, the risk of falling will increase as we walk on wet leaves. Your Chiron Physical Therapy family wants this fall and winter season to be a safe one for you and especially for our elder neighbors.
Falling is a common problem amongst the elderly, and it can result in serious injury. It is estimated that one in every three adults aged 65 and older suffer from a fall every year. Fall related injuries range from hip fractures to head trauma. After a fall, patients experience a significant loss of confidence and a fear of falling when walking unaided. Recovery from a fall involves physical as well as psychological elements. It is important for the patient to seek physical therapy for treatment and fall prevention.
Why do elderly individuals fall? Visual problems, muscle weakness and low blood pressure can cause a loss of balance, which leads to a fall. Other reasons include neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and other conditions affecting the nerves. Occasionally, middle ear problems (vestibular problems) can occur and balance can be affected. The good news is falls can be largely prevented with the right precautions.
Can Your Body Act as Resistance? Your Chiron physical therapists are trained to help individuals improve balance between muscle groups and increase joint stability. Our physical therapists will begin with a detailed neuromuscular assessment to identify muscle imbalances and integrity of the nervous system. We will conduct different tests to determine your sense of balance as you sit, stand and walk. The speed and the stability with which you walk are also evaluated. This becomes the foundation for a balance program, in which you can use your own bodyweight as a source of resistance.
Balance exercises such as single-leg standing under the supervision of a physical therapist are beneficial. Different activities to improve balance while walking and changing positions and direction train the body to prevent falls. The objective is to be able to handle different tasks at the same time while staying in an upright position.
Multiple Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is an important aspect of fall treatment and prevention. We will:
- Assess your footwear
- Discuss the layout / safety of your home to eliminate factors that could result in an inadvertent fall;
- Use several techniques including manual therapy and core stabilization exercises to improve balance and stability;
- Use your own bodyweight as a source of resistance for your muscles;
- Challenge your sense of balance in a controlled environment by shifting your center of gravity. This activates important muscle groups in the neck, trunk, abdomen and hip muscles.
As the body adapts to these exercises over a period of time, the risk for falls reduces. Our physical therapists will also provide you with a simple exercise program that you can do at home, without the need for any equipment or devices.
Your Chiron family wants you to remain upright this Fall Season. But if you do fall, know we are here, extending our hands to help you up.