Balance and fear of falling is a common concern for many Americans. About 30% of older Americans fall every year and 95% of hip fractures are due to falling. These are scary statistics but there are measures you can take to improve your balance and decrease your risk of falling.
First, it’s helpful to understand what balance is. Balance is described as the ability to maintain your mass or weight over your feet (or bottom if you cannot stand). It is comprised of three sensory systems:
- Somatosensory: the sense of touch, especially where your body is in space. It’s the ability to feel your feet on the ground without looking directly at the floor.
- Vestibular: the sense of where your head is in space. It’s that dizzy feeling we get after a merry go round or on an elevator. Your body is staying put, but you can sense movement.
All three of these components are a part of our balance and all three can be affected by injury, disuse, or the aging process.
Fortunately physical therapy can help. A physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine any muscle weakness, muscle tightness, sensory issues, and balance deficits, and can then provide recommendations to reduce your fall risk. Things like clearing clutter throughout the home, putting night lights in hallways, and using a cane or walker may lower your risk of falling. Additionally, through leg strengthening, flexibility and balance exercises performed with your physical therapist you can improve your balance and increase your confidence.
Whether you have just had a fall and you are in pain, or you have “almost” fallen and are worried about what may happen if you do fall, the staff at In Motion can help you through the recovery process and improve your balance for years to come. Please give us a call today at 610-518-9100.