Balance & Fall Prevention Programs
In 2018, 1 in 4 older adults reported falling – that’s about 36 million falls per year. The numbers are increasing, but can also be prevented.
Balance, the ability to control and maintain your body’s position as it moves through space is an integral part of daily life. There are conditions that may impair your sense of balance and contribute to falls. The effects of aging are the most common causes of balance problems, but injury and disease can also create problems.
Causes of Increased Falls Include:
- Impaired Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance
- Poor Posture (Slouching forward and rounded shoulders can cause unsteadiness)
- Disease (Diabetes, Osteoporosis)
- Home Hazards (lighting, obstructed walkways, small pets, cords, etc)
- Winter Conditions (slick sidewalks, high winds, icy parking lots)
- Medications (tranquilizers, heart medicines, blood pressure, etc)
Fall Prevention Programs:
Fall prevention programs offered by physical therapists are designed to increase independence with functional activities, functional mobility, and safety awareness while decreasing fall risk. Research has shown that a successful fall prevention program must be multi-dimensional. A program must address all underlying factors in addition to strength and balance. Physical therapists use valid and reliable assessments to determine all the factors affecting each individual’s fall risk. Therapy focuses on reducing the factors and decreasing fall risk.
Fall Prevention Factors Assessed:
- Medical history
- Static/dynamic balance
- Functional balance
- ADL (Activities of Daily Living) performance
- Range of motion
- Proprioception: The sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body that indicates whether the body is moving, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other.
- Safety awareness
- Extrinsic factors/home conditions
Balance & Fall Prevention Programs are tailored to each individual’s needs. The length of the program is dependent on the severity of the symptoms and the goals of each individual.