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Prevent Falling with Physical Therapy

fall risk

Falls happen more often than you may think. In fact, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year. Thankfully, more often than not, these falls don’t result in serious injury. But, if you experience any symptoms or the reason that caused you to fall in the first place are not recognized or treated, there is a much greater chance of future falls and more serious injury.

As you age, your bones are more prone to fractures or breaks. One out of five falls result in injuries such a a broken bone. We treat a lot of patients for injuries sustained following a fall or to help them improve strength and balance so they can hopefully avoid a fall.

Some of the most common injuries we see at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center include:

  • hip fractures
  • arm fractures
  • wrist fractures

In these situations, physical therapy is important to help restore normal mobility and movement of the injured limb. Physical therapy also helps strengthening the area so the patient can return to their prior level of activity. It’s also very important to evaluate and treat the underlying causes that may have led to the fall in the first place. Think about if you were to fall while walking to your car. Maybe the pavement was a little uneven or there was a slick area, but our balance systems work together to overcome factors like that. If we’re not able to, we have to determine if there is something more going on making it impossible for us to catch our balance or shift our footing to catch ourselves. For more on the balance system, CLICK HERE.

Falling can also affect someone’s confidence and prevent them from getting out or doing some of the activities they once enjoyed. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their risk for falling when they do starting moving around.

What signs should you be watching for either in yourself or in someone you know:

  • Difficulty getting up from a chair: this can indicate weakness in the lower body musculature.
  • Difficulty walking or tendencies to reach out to furniture, walls or others to help stay steady.
  • Changes in vision.
  • Be aware of medications: dizziness and balance issues are common side effects of sleeps aids and pain medications.
  • Chronic health conditions: more than 80% of older adults have a chronic health condition like diabetes, arthritis or stroke, which can increase the risk for falls because of a loss of function, inactivity, depression or pain.
  • Near-falls: a stumble or loss of balance that would result in a fall in you were unable to catch yourself.

How can physical therapy address help?

Physical therapists can help in risk reductions and prevention of falls. Balance training has been shown to be very effective in challenging the balance system so you are in turn reducing your fall risk. A therapist can evaluate your specific needs and design a program focused on strengthening and balance exercises to improve overall function. Balance training exercises will be used to help the body practice reacting to thing that might create a balance issues like an uneven walk way or getting pushed suddenly. Strengthening exercises will also prepare the body to better respond and react to a loss of balance and therefore reduce the risk of falling.

By Angie Austin, LPTA

Don’t let balance issues keep you from doing what you love or just being able to go throughout your daily routine. Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY at 703-450-4300.

CLICK HERE for some balance assessments you can try at home.

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