September is home to National Falls Prevention Awareness Week (Sept. 18-22), and at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers we’re working to shine a spotlight on the dangers of falling and the importance of fall prevention through our Fight the Fall initiative. Taking proactive measures to prevent falls is crucial, as it allows you to maintain independence and continue to do the activities you love! We aim to educate our communities about falls during Fight the Fall to help improve balance, reduce fall risk, and enhance overall well-being. Read more to learn about how you can stay safe from falls.
The Impact That Balance Has on Your Life
Having poor balance can make it difficult to perform everyday activities. Poor coordination can lead to falls and injuries and negatively affect your ability to engage in physical activities such as sports or even walking. This can leave you feeling embarrassed or frustrated while limiting your opportunities. Making a conscious effort to improve your balance can help you live a happier and healthier life. In addition to physical therapy, regular exercise, including yoga and Pilates can help you build strength and increase your body's stability. Taking the time to focus on improving your balance can make a huge difference in how you feel and live every day.
What Are Some Common Risk Factors for Falling?
The risk of falling increases with age, but falls can happen to anyone, at any time, for many different reasons. Most cases of falling involve several different causes or risk factors. Some of the more common types include:
- Muscle weakness, especially in the legs
- Lack of vitamin D
- Trouble with walking or balance
- Side effects of medications like sedatives, antidepressants, or cold medicine can cause drowsiness or dizziness
- Poor vision
- Loss of hearing
- Foot pain or improper footwear
- Uneven surfaces or stairs
- Clutter in the home
- Alcohol consumption
- Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, or confusion
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Incontinence that causes frequent or urgent trips to the bathroom
- Drop-in blood pressure
- Walking on ice or wet, slippery surfaces
If you find that you are dizzy or otherwise losing your balance, don’t ignore it. It is important to seek help as soon as balance issues begin. A lot of people wait too long, but the longer you wait, the worse it can get.
What is a Fall Risk Screening?
A fall risk screening is used to identify individuals who are at high risk for falls. Performed by healthcare professionals, the screening consists of various tests such as gait analysis, balance assessments, strength testing, and other evaluations that help assess the patient's risk of falling. Physical therapists use this information to develop an individualized plan of care that can help the patient increase strength and mobility, while reducing the risk of falls and injury. Regular screenings can be effective in identifying weakness and imbalance as we age. If you or a loved one are concerned about falls, contact the FYZICAL nearest you to schedule your fall risk screening.
How A Balance Program Can Help You
At FYZICAL, we can help you stay steady on your feet by designing a customized treatment plan tailored to meet your unique needs. Through this plan, our therapists will guide you through strength training and stretching exercises specifically designed to help improve your posture, flexibility, and coordination reducing the risk of injury or re-injury. In addition, you will learn how to complete tasks without putting too much strain on your body, enabling you to function in your day-to-day life with greater ease.
By incorporating balance exercises into daily life activities such as getting up from a chair or walking up and down stairs, it's possible for you to achieve better overall stability and improve your quality of life. Physical therapy is an effective way to achieve and maintain balance and can be beneficial for people of all ages. With the help of an individualized plan of care, you will learn the tools needed to make lasting lifestyle changes that will bring balance back into your life.
How to Fall Proof Your Home
Following the tips below can help adults of all ages identify potential risks and take proactive steps to stay safe at home. It is also important to assess the environment for potential dangers such as wet surfaces, poor lighting, items on the floor that could be tripping hazards, and more. Additionally, it's helpful to evaluate any physical indicators that may increase your risk of falls, such as dizziness, weak muscles, and poor balance. Taking these simple steps can help ensure you are staying safe and avoiding potential dangers in your home.
Taking the extra time to fall-proof your home can make a big difference in reducing potential risks. Here are some useful tips on how you can easily fall-proof your home:
- Make sure floor surfaces are non-slip. Securely place rugs on hardwood or tile floors to reduce the risk of slipping and use non-slip mats in the bathtub, shower, and other wet areas.
- Keep clutter off the floors and walkways. Remove any items that you may trip on, such as cords, shoes, and toys.
- Ensure stairs are properly lit at night so you can easily see the steps. Consider placing a light switch at both the top and bottom of the stairs and ensure that no items block or obstruct the stairs.
- Install or use grab bars for added safety in bathrooms and other areas throughout the home, especially where stairs are present.
- Ensure your home is properly lit and consider night lights throughout your home so you can easily spot any potential hazards.
- Purchase furniture and appliances with stability in mind. Be sure to regularly check for loose screws, legs, or other parts on these items that could pose a hazard.
Our Balance Program
FYZICAL offers a comprehensive balance program to help individuals overcome the challenges of dizziness and imbalance. We can perform a fall risk screening to assess your risk for falling and develop an individualized treatment plan that will address the underlying causes of your symptoms. Our balance program focuses on improving strength, coordination, flexibility, and overall stability. Through exercises targeting your vestibular, visual, and somatosensory systems, you can improve postural control, muscle strength, and endurance. At FYZICAL, you’ll learn the necessary tactics and strategies to promote safety while increasing confidence in daily tasks. With the help of our experienced physical therapists and specialized equipment, we will help you get back on your feet in no time! Don’t let dizziness and imbalance hold you back.
How Gait Training Can Improve Your Balance
Improving your gait or your walking skills is essential for developing good balance. Good balance helps you move more efficiently and reduces the risk of falls. It also helps to reduce stress on your joints, ligaments, and muscles as well as improves posture. Walking with a correct gait pattern requires engaging core muscles which will help support your spine during movements while keeping it in proper alignment and reducing pain or strain. By engaging and strengthening these important muscles, you can help keep your balance stable and improve your strength, coordination, and mobility.
Additionally, proper gait training helps to reduce fatigue in the lower body by learning how to move with more power and less effort. Focusing on keeping your head up, shoulders back and relaxed, and a slight bend in the knees as you walk will help keep correct posture and reduce the risk of falls. With practice and dedication to good gait mechanics, you can improve your balance while decreasing pain or strain in the lower body.
Getting Adequate Sleep is Important
Getting enough quality sleep is essential for your body’s optimal performance. Not only can a lack of sleep take a toll on your mental health, but it can also have an adverse impact on your physical balance. Studies show that inadequate rest can lead to impaired coordination and reaction time, making it difficult for you to stay upright and balanced. To maintain a healthy sense of balance, try to get at least eight hours of restful sleep each night. This will help to ensure that your body has the energy it needs to stay steady and prevent falls. Furthermore, during the day make sure you are taking regular breaks from activities such as standing or sitting to keep up your strength and alertness. Taking measures like these can have a positive impact on your balance and overall well-being.
Create a Schedule to Exercise Regularly
Engaging in regular exercise can be an important part of improving and maintaining your balance. Exercises that target main muscle groups, such as those found around the core, hips, and thighs are particularly important for improving balance. Additionally, exercises that involve standing on one foot or walking heel to toe can help you improve your sense of balance. Furthermore, certain Pilates-style exercises can help you strengthen your core muscles to better support your body. You may find that engaging in regular exercise helps improve your overall health as well as your sense of balance. Not sure where to start? Consult your local physical therapist to determine the best exercises for your personal balance goals.
Is Someone in Your Life Struggling with Their Balance?
Over one in four seniors over the age of 65 falls each year. Many of us have loved ones who may not be aware of how they can actively prevent falls. Taking them to receive a fall risk screening can be the first step towards better stability and staying independent. This screening will help provide them with the education and resources needed for a more balanced life and may even save their life!
Raising fall risk awareness in the community is essential to helping those who may struggle with their balance. At FYZICAL, we aim to educate not only our patients but also our local medical professionals about the dangers of falls and our specialized treatments of balance disorders. We offer additional support and resources to help our patients and community members maintain their independence and lead active lives.
Reach Out to a Family Member
It is important to discuss any fall risk concerns with family members and caregivers. When developing a plan for staying safe, having the support of loved ones can be invaluable. For instance, your family may be able to help you identify potential hazards in the home that you may not have noticed before and offer assistance in making modifications to reduce the risk of falling. By working together, you can create a safe and comfortable home environment that will support your overall well-being.
Benefits of Beginning a Balance Program
Participating in FYZICAL’s balance programs can be a positive, life-changing decision. Not only will it help keep your body healthy and fit, but it can also be beneficial both mentally and emotionally. Our team is dedicated to helping you stay steady on your feet and get back to doing what you love!
There's no doubt that a physical therapy balance program can have the power to help you live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Fight the Fall with us this month, by contacting your local FYZICAL clinic and scheduling a fall risk screening to see if balance therapy may be beneficial for you or a loved one.
- Vestibular Disorders Association. The Human Balance System. Retrieved from https://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorder/human-balance-system
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, February 10). Important Facts About Falls. Retrieved from https://www.cdc. gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
- Health in Aging. (2017, October). Falls Prevention: Causes & Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.healthinaging.org/aging-and-health-a-to-z/topic:falls/info:causes-and-symptoms
- NHS Inform. (2018, May 4). Causes of Falls. Retrieved from https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/preventing-falls/causes-of-falls