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Some people have a higher risk of falling than others. Certain risk factors include:
A recently published systematic review by Cochrane, comprised of over 100 randomized controlled trials, supports exercise interventions as an effective treatment method for patients with an increased risk of falling. The average age of patients in this review was 76, and 77% of the patients were women.
Results concluded that those who participated in exercise interventions had a 23% decrease in falls as compared to the control group. Fall risk was also reduced at 21-24%, depending on if treatments were done in individual or group settings. The risk of fall-related fractures was decreased by 27% and the number of falls that required medical attention was decreased by 39%.
Concluding statements from the authors demonstrated how overall, “Exercise reduces both the rate of falls…and the number of people experiencing falls.”
At Good Hands Physical Therapy, your initial physical evaluation may consist of several parts to better determine what your most problematic factors are. These may include vision tests, thinking tests, resting heart rate checks, active heart rate checks, and evaluations of your gait, balance, range of motion, and strength.
Based on the results of this evaluation, your physical therapist will design a treatment plan around your specific needs. These plans are aimed first and foremost at reducing your risk of falling, but they will also aid you in improving balance, strength, flexibility, endurance, and overall movement. Some common forms of treatment include:
If you are feeling painful anywhere, it will be one of the first things addressed in your treatment plan. Your physical therapist will want to make sure that your treatment is as comfortable as possible, so you will work together on relieving pain first, before continuing into any other forms of physical activity that may bring you discomfort.
This part of your treatment plan is aimed at getting you back to your normal physical function when walking and/or moving. Your physical therapist may ask you to perform certain activities, such as walking in a circle or completing an obstacle course.
Balance is a large part of fall prevention, as lack of stability is one of the main reasons why falls occur. Your physical therapist will design a balance training plan for you as part of your treatment, and may ask you to perform certain balance-based activities, such as standing on one leg or holding your balance while performing a mentally-stimulating task (such as reciting the alphabet or reading a page from a book.)
Strength training is typically paired with your balance training. Your physical therapist will design a strength training plan for you, which will focus on specific muscle groups in need of improvement. The goal of this will be to improve your standing and walking balance, as well as your ability to recover from a loss of balance.
Endurance training is all about working up to more advanced levels of the same form of treatment. Your physical therapist will provide you with an aerobic exercise program and will slowly add on time to those exercises as your endurance improves. For example, your endurance training may begin at 10-minute sessions and then may progress to 30-minute sessions.
Are you ready to get back on your feet by improving your balance and decreasing your risk of sustaining a fall-related injury? Contact Good Hands Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment and get started today!