Incorporating Fall Safety Education during Physical Therapy
A comprehensive physical therapy treatment plan should always incorporate fall prevention especially among clients with advanced age. Maintaining good balance reflexes is very important to community-dwelling seniors to reduce the risk of falling at home, especially for those who live alone. But why is balance education often left out during exercise routines?
How a Physical Therapist can Reduce the risk of falls in Elderly
Falls have always been a leading disorder in balance for people over the age of 65. These have caused some seniors to lose their independence and even develop more serious medical conditions. If you’re a senior or near this stage, it’s highly important to take caution when taking steps to avoid falls and improve your personal safety.
Physical therapists are licensed professionals who specialize in helping the body movement, balance and function can help the elderly prevent falls, and enjoy the rest of their lives with great quality and functionality.
Strategies to Reduce Incidence of Falls
A physical therapist addresses all risk factors for falls. He or she may provide services such as the following:
Individualized Exercise Programs
This program is created according to the elderly’s need that will help improve strength, balance, and flexibility. It can also improve certain risk factors for falls like poor balance, weak muscles, peripheral neuropathy and visions problems.
A physical therapist can also create an exercise program designed specifically for you and your body and the program might include one or more of the following exercises:
• Weight training
• Dance steps
• Obstacle courses
• Walking sessions that improve endurance
• Walking in circles
You have the option to participate in these exercises at a physical therapy clinic or at your home, This will all depend on your physical abilities. The exercise program is designed to be safe and effective. You should always follow your therapist’s recommendations to guarantee your safety.
Your physical therapist may also recommend using assistive devices such as canes and walkers that can help prevent falls. He or she can help you decide if you need an assistive device. Always make sure that you check the measurements that suit you and have your therapist teach you how to properly use it.
Assessment of Home Risks
Assessing your home and the risks it comes with can also be a service that your physical therapist provides. In this assessment, the physical therapist may also encourage you to make small changes in your home like:
• Organizing the kitchen or closets to ensure items are easy to reach
• Adding lighting to make things easier to see
• Placing grab bars in the bathroom so elders can easily stand up
• Making sure that all stairs have handrails on both sides
• Removing rugs or using nonskid rug liners
Different Approaches to Fall Prevention
The physical therapist might use a multidisciplinary approach to prevent fall by making sure that the elderly are connected to other health professionals. These professionals may include the following:
• Optometrists or Ophthalmologists for vision concerns
• Orthopedic surgeons for bone and muscle conditions
• Cardiologists for heart and vascular programs that might affect balance
• Pharmacists for balance issues that might be related to medicine
• Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians for inner-ear balance problems.
Your physical therapist may also connect you to different community resources such as groups or government agencies that help elderly people suffering the effects of falling. These organizations are often free and they serve as extra support for the elderly.