Fall Prevention

Decreasing Fall Risk With Physical Therapy

Don’t Let Yourself Live in Fear of Falling!

Have you ever felt unbalanced, dizzy, or unsteady, as though you could fall over at any moment? Have you ever tripped and fallen? Are you worried about the risk of suffering a fall-related injury? If this is the case, you are not alone, our fall prevention program at Island Health Physical Therapy in Riverhead, NY contributes to effectively decreasing the risk and improving your function.

Most people don’t think about keeping their balance in shape until it’s too late and they’ve sustained a hard fall. The good news is that most falls can easily be avoided, simply by exercising your balance system regularly.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal accidents in older adults. Every year, one-third of the population over 65 experiences some sort of fall. In 2013, more than 2.5 million people were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Contact our Riverhead physical therapy clinic today if you fear that you are at risk of falling, so we can help you find the source of your problem and deal with it accordingly.

Common symptoms associated with fall risk

It is important to note that you should also contact a physical therapist if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Arm or leg weakness
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Difficulty standing up from a seated position or standing for prolonged periods
  • Dizziness or vertigo (“spinning” sensations, even when remaining still)
  • Inability to focus or remain alert
  • Double vision or tunnel vision

If you have any of these symptoms, physical therapy could greatly benefit you and help prevent the risk of falling.

Conditions that increase fall risk

Our Riverhead physical therapist will assess your medical history to determine how many risk factors toward falling you may have.

They will educate you on what these factors mean, as well as steps you can take to decrease your risk.

After this, they will perform a thorough physical evaluation to figure out what the best treatment plan for you will be.

Some people have a higher risk of falling than others. Certain risk factors include:

  • Heart disease
  • Advanced age
  • Fatigue
  • Living a sedentary life
  • Overall poor health
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Being female
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Previous history of falls
  • Diabetes
  • Previous stroke or heart attack
  • Arthritis or alternative joint pain
  • Problems with vision
  • Problems with walking or staying balanced

What will a fall prevention PT plan look like?

Your initial physical examination at Island Health Physical Therapy may consist of several components to help decide what your weaknesses are.

Vision tests, thought tests, resting heart rate checks, active heart rate checks, and assessments of your gait, balance, range of motion, and strength can all be performed.

Based on the results of this evaluation, our physical therapist will design a treatment plan for your specific needs.

These plans are aimed first and foremost at reducing your risk of falling, but they will also aid you in improving balance, strength, flexibility, endurance, and overall movement.

Some common forms of treatment include:

Strength training.

Strength training is usually combined with balance training. Our physical therapist will develop a strength training program for you that will concentrate on particular muscle groups that need to be improved. This will boost your standing and walking balance, as well as your ability to recover from a loss of balance.

Endurance training.

Endurance preparation consists of eventually advancing to more advanced stages of the same type of treatment. Our physical therapist will develop an aerobic exercise routine for you and progressively increase the length of those workouts as your stamina improves. For instance, your endurance training may begin with 10-minute sessions and progress to 30-minute sessions.

Pain management.

If you are experiencing pain in any area, it will be treated as soon as possible in your care plan. Our physical therapist will try to make the recovery as easy as possible, so you will first focus on relieving pain before moving on to any other types of physical activity that may cause you discomfort.

Balance training.

Balance is a large part of fall prevention, as lack of stability is one of the main reasons why falls occur. Our physical therapists will design a balance-training plan for you as part of your treatment and may ask you to perform certain balance-based activities, such as standing on one leg or holding your balance while performing a mentally-stimulating task (such as reciting the alphabet or reading a page from a book.)

Walking and moving programs.

This part of your treatment plan is aimed at getting you back to your normal physical function when walking and/or moving. Our physical therapist may ask you to perform certain activities, such as walking in a circle or completing an obstacle course.

How does physical therapy help decrease fall risk?

A recently published systematic review by Cochrane, comprising more than 100 randomized controlled trials, supports exercise interventions as an effective method of treatment for patients at increased risk of falling. The average age of the patients in this review was 76, and 77% of the patients were female.

The risk of fall-related fractures decreased by 27 percent and the number of falls that required medical attention decreased by 39 percent. Fall risk was also reduced by 21-24 percent in this group, depending on whether individual or group treatments had been performed.

Results concluded that those who participated in exercise interventions had a 23 percent drop in fall risk compared to the control group.

Concluding statements by the authors showed that overall, “Exercise reduces both the rate of falls… and the number of people experiencing falls.”

Find relief with physical therapy

Fight the fall today. If you’re ready to get back on your feet by improving your balance and lowering your risk of a fall-related injury, contact Island Health Physical Therapy to request an appointment and get started today!