Health Blog

Health and Wellness.

30 Aug

Ask A PT

Your Questions Answered.

With Julia Harrison-Sketo, DPT, C/NDT

Ask a PT:  Balance and Falls

PATIENT QUESTION:

Dear Elite PT,

I am in my mid-sixties and I am noticing that I do not have the balance I once had. I also feel unsteady on stairs and when bending over. I am afraid that I am going to lose my balance, fall and end up in a worse situation by breaking something like my hip or arm/wrist. Are there things I can do to prevent that from happening?

L. Penny

PT ANSWER:

Falls and a fear of falling can diminish your ability to lead a full and independent life. A fall can result in unwanted outcomes, including injury, loss of independence, and decreased ability to do the things that are most important to you. Falls can have very serious consequences as we age. Each year, more than 25 percent of adults 65 or older have a fall, and 3 million are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can prevent falling by doing physical activities you enjoy and working with a physical therapist to improve your balance, muscle strength, and endurance.

The risk of falling in older adults is usually related to combination of factors, including:

  • Balance and/or walking problems. Balance can be affected by vision changes, vestibular problems and altered sensation in the feet.
  • The use of multiple medications. Studies indicate that when individuals take five or more medicines, the risk of falls increases.
  • Home hazards (including dim lighting and trip hazards)
  • Positional low blood pressure (such as orthostatic hypotension when blood pressure drops upon standing.
  • Feet and footwear issues

Although 1 in every 4 older adults falls each year, falling is not a part of normal aging. An Elite physical therapist can help you assess your risk factors and develop a plan to address them and remain independent by:

  • Assessing your strength, balance, gait, and fall risk.
  • Designing an individualized plan for your fall-prevention needs.
  • Provide tips on how you can make your home as safe as possible.
  • Educating you about the medical risk factors associated with falls.
  • Providing you with appropriate exercises and balance training.
  • Working with other health care professionals to address any underlying medical conditions that could increase your fall risk.

We, as physical therapists, are movement experts,” says Julia Harrison-Sketo, DPT, C/NDT, an Elite physical therapist. “Our goal is to improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement or exercises.”

While it’s not possible to completely prevent a fall, exercises that focus on balance and strength training can reduce the risk of falling. “We treat elderly adults for injuries sustained from falls, and other patients who feel unsteady while walking or standing and are fearful of falling,” says Julia. “We help them with exercises that can help improve balance and build strength to help prevent future falls.”

“For older adults, activities such as squatting, standing up from a chair and walking may be difficult or cause them to feel unsteady, which increases their risk of falling.” adds Harrison-Sketo.

Check out the following links on our Website and Health Blog that will give you information, tips, and exercises on BALANCE AND FALL RISK:

Julia Harrison- Sketo, DPT, C/NDT addresses how we at Elite treat BALANCE and Neurologic issues: https://www.eliteptla.com/blog/how-does-elite-treat-balance-stroke-neurologic-deficits/

Juliana Meeker, DPT helps you determine if YOU ARE AT RISK OF FALLING in this video: https://www.eliteptla.com/blog/how-is-your-balance/

Brandi Thiels, PTA talks about EXERCISES used to IMPROVE YOUR BALANCE here: https://www.eliteptla.com/blog/is-your-balance-not-like-it-used-to-be-here-are-6-home-exercises-to-help/

Julia Harison-Sketo, DPT, C/NDT, addresses HOW TO GET UP OFF THE FLOOR if you should fall: https://www.eliteptla.com/blog/is-it-hard-for-you-to-get-up-off-the-floor/

The most important thing you can do if you feel your balance is off and you are at risk of falling is to speak to your physician and your Elite physical therapist. We want to help you BEFORE you fall and injure yourself worse. Call us today at 318.443.3311 for your own personalized assessment. Let us help you get back to living life to the fullest without fear and feeling strong!

Julia Harrison-Sketo, DPT, C/NDT

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