by Aimee Keller, PT, DPT
Commonly, physical therapy is thought of as treatment following an injury or after having surgery. However, physical therapy is effective in preventing injury, especially when it comes to fall prevention in the elderly population. A physical therapist can help identify factors that may be putting you at risk of future falls.
Falls can occur due to multiple reasons, such as:
- Strength deficits
- Balance deficits
- Vision impairment
- Cognitive impairment
Your primary physician can assist in identifying any medication or underlying conditions that cause dizziness and increase risk of falling. While your physical therapist can address strength and balance impairments and give you the tools to improve those deficits in order to reduce risk of falls.
What does a fall prevention physical therapy plan of care look like?
- Balance training: Your therapist will safely take you through different stationary and moving exercises. These will challenge your balance and, over time, improve your reaction times and ability to correct your balance to reduce your risk of falling.
- Walking program: Your therapist will likely have you walking, stationary biking, and doing a variety of moving activities. These can improve your endurance, strength, and balance to maximize your functional mobility and improve your safety.
- Dual-tasks: Older adults who have difficulties walking and doing another task at the same time (talking, reaching, turning the head, etc.) are at a higher risk of falling. Your PT can safely take you through “dual task” exercises, where you perform multiple things at once to prepare for real life situations.
- Strength training: Having appropriate upper and lower extremity strength is important in correcting your balance and preventing falls. Your therapist will prescribe an individualized strengthening program to target your weak areas.
- Education: Your therapist can provide information about ways to reduce your risk of falling at home and in the community, such as suggesting appropriate assistive devices to use or ways to set up your home in order to maximize your safety.
There are multiple ways physical therapy can assist you in improving balance and mobility. Improvements in these areas can reduce risk of falls and better quality of life. Contact Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy at 866-588-0230 to set up an appointment with our movement and balance experts to help get you safely moving again!