Balance and Falls: Take Control of Your Wellbeing

BALANCE AND FALLS: Take Control of Your Wellbeing

Assessing Risk Factors for Fall Prevention and Greater Balance

Falls are an all too common occurrence, effecting millions of adults aged 65 and older each year. Falls can lead to injury, loss of independence, and increased risk of early death. The good news is that falls are largely preventable. Knowing the risk factors and what you can do to prevent them can help you take control of your wellbeing.

 

Some Facts About Falls:

*  1 in 3 people age 65 and older experience falls each year.

* Falls are the largest single cause of restricted activity days among older adults and a leading precipitating cause of nursing home admissions.

* Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among people ages 65 and older.

* Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries 5x more often than they are for injuries from other causes.

Risk Factors For Falls:

  • Being 65 or older. Risk increases for those 80 and older
  • Taking more than 4 medications at a time or psychoactive medications (such as sedatives or antidepressants)
  • Difficulty with balance or walking
  • Weak leg muscles
  • Vision problems, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or wearing bifocals
  • History of falling
  • Medical conditions that limit mobility such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or stroke
  • Conditions that cause confusion such as dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Depression
  • Home hazards, such as throw rugs or pets underfoot
  • Using a cane or other walking device
  • Low blood pressure

* Adapted from the American Physical Therapy Association

How We Can Help Decrease Your Fall Risk

Each individual has different balance needs. At Cioffredi & Associates we work with clients one-on-one to identify and assess their risk factors and create a program to decrease those factors. We’ll ask questions about your daily activities and the environment you live in, review your medical history, and assess your physical ability to respond to a loss of balance.

The therapy program we design for you may include things like:Enhancing Balance With Physical Therapy

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching
  • Aerobic training
  • Gait (walking) training
  • Postural training
  • Vestibular (inner-ear) conditioning
  • Mobility & balance exercises.

 

The exercises will be challenging to create the stimulus needed to improve. It’s important that exercises are only performed in a safe environment, and that they are designed to meet your goals. Once you’ve worked on them in clinic, you’ll gain the strength and confidence to continue working on them at home to maintain the gains you’ve made in therapy.

In addition, we’ll help you to maximize the safety of your environment to reduce hazards that could lead to a fall. Use our Home Safety Checklist to learn what you can do to make your home safer and prevent falls.

The Dizziness Factor: Dizziness and the Balance System

Dizziness is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits and hospitalizations for people over the age of 65. Dizziness is a general term used to describe lightheadedness and general unsteadiness. When you have spinning dizziness, that is referred to as vertigo. It can be accompanied by symptoms of nausea, anxiety, imbalance, blurred vision, and more; it can also increase the risk of falls. There are many causes of dizziness and vertigo, but no matter what the cause, the sooner you talk to your health care provider, the better.

BENIGN PAROXYSMAL POSITIONAL VERTIGO (BPPV) is the most common form of vertigo. It is caused by calcium carbonate crystals that have been displaced and entered the inner ear canals. Nearly 50% of vertigo from the inner ear is due to BPPV, and its incidence increases with age. It most often presents as vertigo when lying down, rolling over in bed, or turning quickly. BPPV most often causes brief dizziness when changing positions and causes unsteadiness in a majority of patients. Physical therapy treatment focuses on realigning the crystals in the inner ear, and is often effective in just one therapy session. The therapist will teach you how to perform the maneuver on yourself so that you can stop episodes of BPPV in the future.

Balance and Wellbeing

Clients Share Their Vertigo Success Stories

“A few years ago, after 10 months of intense vertigo, and unsuccessful treatments my doctor suggested I try PT. I came to Cioffredi & Associates and saw a therapist and 45 minutes later I was 95% cured. It was a fascinating experience learning about the mechanics of vertigo and how it is treated by head exercises, as opposed to drugs. I was amazed how the level of dizziness I was feeling was visible to the therapist in my eyes. Last week when I woke with vertigo, after years of no relapse, I knew exactly what to do. I did the exercise and made an appointment to check in with the PT. My therapist was knowledgeable and thorough, and even sent me additional material to read via email after my visit. This showed me her interest not only in my case, but in my wellbeing. Thank you!” ~ J.H.

“Vertigo is by far the most disabling thing that I have dealt with above all my injuries. Anna took care of it very quickly which gave me comfort to do the things I need to on a daily basis. I am very happy. Thanks!” ~ T.T.

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