Physical Therapist’s Guide to Falls

By: Cole Monson

Great post about falls from the American Physical Therapy Association Move Forward website.  Here’s an extended excerpt:

Falls can diminish your ability to lead an active and independent life. There usually are several reasons for a fall, and the more risk factors you have, the greater your risk.

About one third of people over the age of 65 and almost half of people over the age of 80 will fall at least once this year.

The reasons for falls are complex and include:

  • Being 80 years old or older
  • Leg muscle weakness
  • Difficulty with balance or walking
  • Vision problems (cataracts, macular degeneration, wearing bifocals)
  • Medical conditions that limit your ability to get around, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or diabetes
  • Conditions that cause confusion, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Taking more than 4 medications at the same time or psychoactive medications (such as sedatives or antidepressants)
  • Using a cane or other walking device
  • Home hazards (throw rugs, pets underfoot)
  • Low blood pressure
  • A history of previous falls
  • HOW A PHYSICAL THERAPIST CAN HELP

About one third of people over the age of 65 and almost half of people over the age of 80 will fall at least once this year.
If you are worried about falling or if you recently had a fall, your physical therapist can conduct a screening of your fall risk. If the screening shows that you are at risk, the physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation, and design an exercise and training program to improve your balance and strength, and may include:

  • Balance Training
  • Walking and Moving Improvement
  • Learning to Multitask Safely
  • Strength Training
  • Aerobic Training
  • Education
  • Fear Management
  • Use of community programs
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