Most falls are caused by the interaction of multiple risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their risk of falling. Healthcare providers, such as a physical therapist, can help lower a person’s risk of falling.
Risk Factors associated with falls include:
- Older age
- Muscle weakness
- History of falls
- Medical conditions (diabetes, arthritis, stroke, fear, difficulties walking)
According to the CDC, more than 1/3 of adults 65 and older fall each year in the U.S. Balance can improve no matter how old you may be, but it takes work. Falls are not a normal part of aging, but they are a leading cause of injury and accidental death among seniors.
The body maintains balance with sensory information from three systems:
- Visual: information about the position and motion of the head with respect to surrounding objects.
- Vestibular (inner ear): information about the position and movement of the head with respect to gravity.
- Somatosensory (touch sensors in the feet, trunk, and spine): information about the position and motion of the body with respect to the supporting surface.
Sensory input from these three systems is processed by the brain stem and messages are sent to the eyes and muscles in order to maintain steady vision, posture, and balance.
Our vestibular/balance rehabilitation process begins with a comprehensive evaluation of the patient with the physical therapist assessing muscle strength, flexibility, standing balance, walking balance, vision and visual motor skills, motion sensitivity, sensation, coordination, and a benign paroxysmal positional vertigo assessment if appropriate. If a patient is suspected to have vertigo they will complain of a spinning sensation (the perception of their self or their surroundings moving/whirling) and will be assessed with canalith repositioning maneuvers. They will be educated on what they can do the rest of the day and will be instructed on an individualized home program.
If you or someone you know are concerned about your balance or your risk of falling please contact Hayes Physical Therapy to schedule your evaluation today!
For more information you can visit https://vestibular.org/