What Increases Your Risk of Falling?
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk for falls:
- Muscle Weakness, which is the number one risk factor.
- Underlying issues, such as worsening eyesight, developing diabetes or new heart conditions.
- Medicines (or combinations of medicines) you’re taking that can increase your chances of falling.
- Environmental factors, like area rugs in your home, wearing the wrong shoes and even living in particularly high or low temperature areas.
- Personal risk factors, including reduced flexibility, dehydration, Vitamin D deficiency or anxiety.
The good news is that many risk factors for falls can be changed, minimized or eliminated entirely, including poor balance, muscle weakness, limited flexibility and decreased endurance. However, less than half of those who fall ever mention it to their doctor or physical therapist.
Why It’s Important to Prevent Falls
Losing your balance and taking a fall can change your life permanently. A simple fall can cause…
- A hip fracture. 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. And full recovery is a challenge for most, with only one-third of people able to return to living independently after breaking their hip.
- A concussion. Falls cause more than 60% of head injuries such as concussions in older adults. And since less than half of seniors tell their doctors when they experience a fall, concussions are often missed or misdiagnosed when symptoms start to show.
- Loss of independence. Falls are the main reason that older adults lose their ability to continue to live independently. The loss of independence may initially be partial or total, ranging from losing the ability (or permission) to drive to requiring assistance performing routine daily activities (e.g., bathing, eating, laundry or shopping).
Approach to Improving Balance and Preventing Falls
The good news is that research shows that older adults can proactively prevent falls and their dangerous consequences with the help of a physical therapist.
- Assess your risk for a fall. Your physical therapist can conduct a thorough screening of your fall risk. This check can include:
- a review of your medical history
- balance and strength tests
- assessment of gait (e.g., how you walk)
- checking heart rate and blood pressure in various positions
- ensuring your home is as safe as possible
- evaluation of feet and footwear
- Design and guide you through balance exercises. Often, in order to improve your balance, you must challenge your balance. But it can be hard to do balance exercises without someone to help you, since just working to improve can put you at risk of falling. Your physical therapist will design balance exercises that challenge your ability to keep your balance as well as recover from a loss of balance.
- Strength train. Strengthening specific muscle groups helps improve your standing balance, your balance while walking and your ability to recover from a loss of balance. A key element of fall prevention, your physical therapist will help you work through a personalized strengthening program that is safe for you.
- Manage pain. Being in pain limits you in every way, and that includes your ability to walk and keep your balance. If pain is a factor, your physical therapist will work to minimize the pain while gradually introducing balance exercises or strength training.
- Rehab and recover from fractures. When you suffer a fracture, you may be required to stay off your injured limb for a prescribed amount of time. After a certain point, however, immobilization can do more harm than good. Your physical therapist can help ensure your injury heals in the most complete, effective way possible.
- Treat concussions. For many older adults, falling is associated with stories of friends or family members who suffered a hip, wrist, or ankle fracture. This focus on broken bones often leads to the under recognition of less visible trauma, like concussions. Just as you would want to check for bruises and broken bones after a fall, it is important to assess for signs of a concussion. Your physical therapist can determine which clinical profile (i.e., Migraine, Vestibular, Ocular, Cognitive or Anxiety/Mood) your symptoms most fit and then treat accordingly. Getting the proper treatment right off the bat is key to healing and preventing further injury and decline in function.
Clear Choice Physical Therapy in Fort Lauderdale, FL Is the Best Physical Therapy Clinic to Help Prevent Falls
As we get older, the dangers posed by falling are real and can feel overwhelming. But this is no reason to stop yourself from leading an active, social life. Our physical therapists at Clear Choice Physical Therapy are familiar with a wide range of strengthening, aerobic and balance exercises for seniors proven to improve fall prevention.
At Clear Choice Physical Therapy in Fort Lauderdale, FL we specialize in balance and fall prevention. Clear Choice is the best physical therapy clinic positioned to both treat fall-related injuries and restore your confidence following potentially serious trauma and prevent future ones.
Contact us today at 954-697-9451 or [email protected] – just see how we can help you regain your balance and confidence!