November 2016 – Rehab and Wellness Connection

The leaves are falling, as they should this time of year; but you should not be victim to a fall.

Falls send millions of people to the emergency rooms each year with broken hips or head injuries or other injuries. Imbalance is a common cause of falls. Physical therapists and therapy can help reduce the risk of falls in your life through evaluation, exercise and treatment.

Physical therapy for balance focuses on three things:

  1. The ability of the joints and brain to communicate
  2. The balance system in the ear (the vestibular system, and
  3. Vision

As professionals in the master of movement and musculoskeletal anatomy, physical therapists can create a plan that is just right for each individual.

Exercises to improve balance can be as simple as standing on one foot, first with the eyes open and then with the eyes closed – this can help coordinate all three. Joint flexibility exercises, walking and lower-extremity exercises can also help.

Core strength is very important for balance. If your abdominal muscles in your core are weak, they cannot adequately support your legs when you’re walking. If the muscles in your buttocks and hips aren’t strong, they won’t be able to propel you forward. Muscle strengthening exercises can help. There are many exercises that help improve balance and strength which may include components of yoga or even tai chi for slow, flowing motions. Both types of exercises increase flexibility, range of motion, leg and core strength and reflexes.

If your vision is impaired, your risk of falling increases dramatically. If you’re having trouble with your vision, you should schedule an eye exam.

If an assistive walking device becomes necessary, a trained physical therapist will be able to help you choose the proper device and use. A cane or walker can complement your balance and give you more stability and confidence when walking.

Balance is one of those things that we take for granted. In most of us, it becomes worse as we enter the last half of our lives. But we often don’t notice it – until suddenly we do!

If you are interested in learning more about improving your balance to lessen your risk for falls and how physical therapy might be able to help you, stop in our clinic at 417 3rd Avenue in Clear Lake or call 715.263.4103. Our staff is more than willing to answer any questions you may have about Choosing Physical Therapy.