Balance and Fall Prevention
Although there is static seated and standing balance, we tend to think of balance as a dynamic activity. While maintaining balance statically is important, it is not as beneficial as movement based balance training. Being able to take challenges, variable loads, and speeds and react to those demands is far more important for fall prevention. Falls are one of the leading cause of injury related deaths in the United States, especially in the elderly population.
Gait and balance are closely related and effect each other on a daily basis. Balance and gait rely on an multitude of body systems including the eyes, inner ear function, cognitive functions, and of course the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. Physical therapy for balance and gait is aimed at identifying short comings in these systems and developing programs to improve their function and performance.
Benefits of balance and gait training
Decreased fall risk
Improved function for activities of daily living
Improved independence around the home and community
Increased safety on stairs and unstable surfaces if post surgical
Improved reflexes and righting reactions
Improved confidence for daily tasks
Balance and gait training prescription
Balance training is very individualized. An evaluation is necessary to determine the root cause of impairments. There are many basic motions and tests that can be performed to help guide treatment and develop and plan. Often simple and safe exercises can be performed to address issues that are uncovered during the evaluation. Many of which can be completed independently at home.
Along with balance exercises an assistive device (cane, walker) may be recommended for safety purposes or to guard an injured body part. Ideally these are used temporarily and a plan is made to ultimately stop using such a device if appropriate.