Did you know that more than ⅓ of adults over the age of 65 experience falls in the United States? Of those falls, 20-30% result in moderate to severe injuries. Unexpected falls are one of the leading causes of injury, but physical therapy can luckily help prevent them.
How do I know if I’m at risk of a fall-related injury?
Some people have a higher risk of falling than others. Certain risk factors include:
- Advanced age
- Being female
- Living a sedentary life
- Previous history of falls
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Previous stroke or heart attack
- Arthritis or alternative joint pain
- Problems with vision
- Problems with walking or staying balanced
- Overall poor health
Your physical therapist will assess your medical history to determine how many risk factors toward falling you may have. They will educate you on what these factors mean, as well as steps you can take to decrease your risk. After this, they will perform a thorough physical evaluation to figure out what the best treatment plan for you will be.
How will physical therapy help me?
Your initial physical evaluation may consist of several parts to better determine what your most problematic factors are. These may include vision tests, thinking tests, resting heart rate checks, active heart rate checks, and evaluations of your gait, balance, range of motion, and strength.
Based on the results of this evaluation, your physical therapist will design a treatment plan around your specific needs. These plans are aimed first and foremost at reducing your risk of falling, but they will also aid you in improving balance, strength, flexibility, endurance, and overall movement. Some common forms of treatment include:
- Pain management. If you are feeling painful anywhere, it will be one of the first things addressed in your treatment plan. Your physical therapist will want to make sure that your treatment is as comfortable as possible, so you will work together on relieving pain first, before continuing into any other forms of physical activity that may bring you discomfort.
- Walking and moving programs. This part of your treatment plan is aimed at getting you back to your normal physical function when walking and/or moving. Your physical therapist may ask you to perform certain activities, such as walking in a circle, completing an obstacle course, or dancing.
- Balance training. Balance is a large part of fall prevention, as lack of stability is one of the main reasons why falls occur. Your physical therapist will design a balance training plan for you as part of your treatment, and may ask you to perform certain balance-based activities, such as standing on one leg or holding your balance while performing a mentally-stimulating task (such as reciting the alphabet or reading a page from a book.)
- Strength training. Strength training is typically paired with your balance training. Your physical therapist will design a strength training plan for you, which will focus on specific muscle groups in need of improvement. The goal of this will be to improve your standing and walking balance, as well as your ability to recover from a loss of balance.
- Endurance training. Endurance training is all about working up to more advanced levels of the same form of treatment. Your physical therapist will provide you with an aerobic exercise program, such as walking or aquatic therapy, and will slowly add on time to those exercises, as your endurance improves. For example, your endurance training may begin at 10-minute sessions and then may progress to 30-minute sessions.
Fall prevention is extremely important for those who are at risk of experiencing falls. If you believe our fall prevention treatment program may benefit you, don’t hesitate to give our office a call today. Don’t live in fear that you may take a harsh fall – instead, let us help you get back on your feet!
For more information, Contact us at Dakota Dunes, SD, Des Moines & Clive, IA centers.