How Can Physical Therapy Help With Fall Prevention? | Blog

How Can Physical Therapy Help With Fall Prevention?

  Posted: Feb 14, 2020

  Category: health and wellness


The risk of falls and fractures increases with age, and not just that, but when a fall happens in your older years, it typically leads to more serious problems, such as a trip to the hospital, injury, or even disability.
 
Because of the likelihood and severity of falls in older adults, it is not unheard of to have a fear of falling. The fear can diminish your ability to lead a full and independent life, preventing you from normal day-to-day activities like walking, shopping, or even gardening.
 
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take steps towards fall prevention by staying active, maintaining your physical health, and working with a physical therapist to get you on the right track.  

What causes falls?

Before we discuss fall prevention, we must first understand what tends to cause falls. As we get older, the causes of falling are numerous.
 
Here are a few:
 
·      Diabetes, heart conditions, and thyroid, nerve, feet, or blood vessel problems can affect your balance.
·      Some medications cause dizziness and drowsiness, causing you to fall while walking or standing.
·      Tripping hazards in the home like loose wires/cables, raised carpeting or flooring, and steps and stairs in or outside the home.
·      Non-supportive footwear like backless shoes, high heels, flip flops, or even shoes that are too big.
·      A sedentary lifestyle contributes to muscle weakness, limited flexibility, imbalance, and fatigue, making you less able to respond at the onset of a fall.
 

What can a physical therapist do to help with fall prevention?

A physical therapist will not only assess your level of risk for falls, but he/she can also work with you to prevent fall incidents and improve your quality of life.
 
There are three areas that physical therapists cover in a fall prevention program.
 
Assessment
Before setting you up with a fall prevention plan, a physical therapist reviews and assesses several things, including:
  • Reviewing your medical history and medications
  • Conducting a simple vision and test
  • Checking your heart rate and blood pressure at rest and when you change sitting/standing positions
  • Assessing your footwear, home safety, balance/strength, and walking ability

Education
Based on your screenings, assessments, and review of your medical history, a physical therapist will educate you on the risk factors you may have that are commonly associated with falls. A physical therapist will also give you recommendations for how to prevent falls, including nutrition, appropriate footwear, and home safety; and put together a wellness plan that may include exercises and balance training.
 
Treatment
Your wellness plan described above will be part of your treatment to help with fall management. Treatments may include the following:
  • Walking and moving: Going from a sedentary or inactive lifestyle can increase your chances of falling if you suddenly start a walking program. Your physical therapist may start you doing light movements like dance steps, walking in circles, or working through an obstacle course. Gradual movements and aerobic activity can build to a walking regimen.
  • Endurance training: Your physical therapist will work in aerobic exercise of low intensity and long duration, which will help every aspect of your health. Walking, yoga, or aquatic programs are forms of endurance training.
  • Balance and strength training: Your physical therapist may assign some balance exercises to keep balance and recover from a loss of balance like single-leg standing. Going hand in hand with balance training includes strength training to focus on muscle groups that will help with balance and recovery. Taking on balance and strength training can also help with pain management and reduce the need for medications like opioids.
Physical therapists are also great resources for referrals on pain or fear management. They can also guide you to community-based or support programs that assist seniors with mobility and home safety.

What kind of physical therapist do you need?

Physical therapists are prepared through education and experience to treat people who have a fear of falling, and balance problems. Find a physical therapist who is board-certified and has experience in treating seniors.

Talk to Liberty Rehab about their fall prevention program. Liberty Rehab offers custom treatment plans for seniors to prevent and manage slips, trips, and falls, Their certified therapists work one-on-one to address your needs and improve your quality of life.