Preventing Falls With Physical Therapy
‘Physical therapy’ often brings to mind images of a trained Physical Therapist (PT) helping you regain strength and mobility after an injury. However, it’s far better for you to prevent that injury in the first place. Trained and experienced PTs can help you achieve that goal in a number of ways. Here are a few things to expect when talking to a Physical Therapist about fall prevention:
Interview and Assessment
Before making any recommendations, your PT will give you a full assessment. This could include:
- Discussing your home arrangement.
- Getting your medical history (have you fallen in the past, current injuries, etc).
- Discussing your goals and lifestyle needs.
- Observing you as you walk, bend, lift things, etc.
This is an important part of the process that will let your PT know in which areas you need help. Your therapist narrows down what might cause you to fall and create a customized plan to address those problems.
Eight Common Causes of Falls
Falls can happen for many reasons, but they tend to have some common causes such as:
- Weak muscles, particularly in the legs and core.
- Spinal problems such as slipped discs.
- Difficulty with balance.
- Vision problems.
- Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Low blood pressure or blood sugar issues.
- Side effects of medication.
- Hazards like furniture, loose carpets, slick bathroom tiles, or household clutter.
Once your PT has given you a risk assessment, it’s time to start tackling those problems. Your fall prevention plan will be tailored to your specific needs and lifestyle. In many cases, it may include:
These exercises focus on safely strengthening your muscles as well as retraining them. You might do anything from standing on one foot to balancing on a curved board. This therapy is especially important if you’ve had a fall in the past. Your PT will also likely work on improving your flexibility, which works hand in hand with balance training to prevent injuries.
Your PT may teach you exercises to generally strengthen your body. This could include exercises that target the back, core, and front and back of the legs. You will likely have to do these exercises several times a week to get the best results.
Troubleshooting the Home
Even physically strong people with great balance can experience slips and falls. In many cases, it’s because of issues in the home. This could include slippery bathtubs, loose rugs that slide underfoot, unstable chairs, or rooms without enough floor space to move safely around. Your PT may talk with you about how your home is set up and have suggestions for fall-proofing your living space.
Referring You to Other Specialists
Some common causes of falls can’t be addressed through physical therapy. However, your PT may be a valuable resource here, too. They may recommend that you get your glasses prescription updated, talk to your doctor about medication side effects that are raising your fall risk, or refer you to an orthopedic specialist for new footwear.
At Kleinpeter Physical Therapy, we will form a customized physical therapy plan to help you regain muscle strength and avoid future falls. Contact us today for a consultation to help you start the road to recovery!