For most people, maintaining independence as they age is extremely important.
This includes keeping both your mind and body in great shape.
And a major concern is often fall prevention.
At Capitol Physical Therapy in Washington DC, we can help you with your strength, balance, and endurance. All of these factors which can impact your stability on your feet and make the difference between maintaining and independent lifestyle and needing assistance as you age.
With the help of our physical therapy services we can help you prevent falls, so you can continue to enjoy your life.
What Is A Fall?
First, let’s define what a fall entails.
For instance, if you collapse as a result of a heart attack, or fainting because you stood up too quickly, is this considered a fall?
The short answer is no, because both of these situations have medical reasons for happening.
What about if someone pushes or bumps into you?
That is also not considered a fall.
A fall is when something causes you to have unexpected and unplanned contact with a supporting surface such as furniture or the ground.
A near fall occurs when you lose your balance but are able to steady yourself in time.
What Puts You At Greater Risk Of Falling?
Some factors which can affect your risk of a fall include:
- Not using your assistive device, such as a walker or cane, properly
- Inactive lifestyle
- Having fallen previously
- Inappropriate footwear
- Your sex – cisgender women are at a higher risk of falls
- Poor overall health
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Having been in the hospital recently
- Decreased flexibility
- Hazards in the home such as low lighting, rugs, and not having handrails on stairs
- Some medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, diabetes, or stroke
- Ergonomic issues at work
- Low blood pressure, which can lead to feeling dizzy when sitting or standing up
How Can A Physical Therapist Help Prevent Falls?
If you are worried about falls, either for yourself or because a loved one is at risk for them, there are actions you can take to help lower the risk.
This can involve working with a physical therapist who can help with:
- Creating a plan designed to address your individual needs in regard to fall prevention
- Teaching you exercises to improve your strength and balance
- Reviewing your medical history, and if any medications you are taking may increase your risk for falls
- Giving you recommendations for programs in your community which may be beneficial
- Working with your health care team to address any medical conditions which could put you at a higher risk of a fall
- Testing your vision, cognition, and reaction times
- Making your home environment safer for you
- Fall prevention education
- Addressing vestibular issues and suggesting vestibular rehabilitation therapy treatments where necessary
Let’s look at some of the ways a physical therapist can help, in more detail.
One of the most important factors in how at risk you are for falls is how good your balance is.
Exercises such as standing on one leg, or holding your balance while performing a simple task can help to improve your balance.
A physical therapist will give you exercises which can help you challenge and increase your balance, as well as helping you to recover from a sudden loss of balance.
Walking on a regular basis is an incredibly important part of maintaining your health and fitness.
However, if you attempt to start a walking program but your balance is poor it can lead to a greater risk of experiencing a fall.
Some techniques a physical therapist might use to help improve your walking skills could include:
- Exercises to increase core strength
- Walking through an obstacle course
- Dance steps
- Marching walking
Having sufficient physical strength in the muscles you use to walk and hold yourself up is an essential piece in preventing falls.
Additionally, having sufficient strength doesn’t go very far if you become tired after just a few minutes.
Endurance is another foundational piece when it comes to preventing falls.
Your physical therapist will create a program for you that works on increasing both strength and endurance.
Chronic pain can make life difficult, and if basic exercises or movements result in increased pain, this is something which needs to be considered when creating a physical therapy plan.
In some cases, the exercises which help to improve strength and endurance can also aid in reducing pain.
Interventions with pain management physical therapy can help people to reduce the need for prescription pain medications.
When it comes to falls, psychological issues can be just as important to deal with as physical ones.
If you have a fear of falling, it can impact your confidence and cause you to avoid certain activities because you’re afraid.
Speaking with your physical therapist about these specific fears means they will be better able to tailor an individualized plan to help increase your confidence with activities you may be avoiding.
They can also give you an objective assessment as to instances where caution may be warranted and what activities you should refrain from.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
Are you worried you’re at increased risk of experiencing a fall?
Perhaps you aren’t quite as active as you once were, and want to take up a walking program but worry about your balance.
Maybe you’ve had a fall previously, and your confidence in being able to participate in daily activities has gone down since then.
It could also be an elderly family member you’re worried about, who might need assistance but wants to continue to live independently.
We’re Capitol Physical Therapy, and we can help.
Serving Washington DC and the surrounding area, we provide physical therapy services which help our clients continue to live full, independent lives.
Contact us today for a consultation or more information about our services.