Decrease Your Fall Risk with the Help of Physical Therapy!
When was the last time you had your balance checked? No matter what age you are, your balance can always be improved – in fact, even those who do not live with a balance or gait disorders can still suffer from balance-related injuries that occur from poor posture or reflexes.
However, if you frequently notice an imbalance, dizziness, or unsteadiness that makes you feel as if you may fall over at any given time, it is a sign that you may be living with a balance or gait disorder. Balance disorders, and balance issues in general, all stem from the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is a delicate collection of fluid-filled chambers and sensory nerves located in the inner ear. Your vestibular system helps manage your “proprioception,” or sense of position, and when this is altered, it can be difficult to keep yourself steady.
If you have been noticing issues with your balance, contact us today so we can help you figure out the root of your problem and treat it accordingly.
How can I tell if I need to improve my balance?
It can sometimes be difficult to determine if your balance is in need of improvement. The simple test below may be an indicator that you should seek physical therapy intervention:
- Stand barefoot next to a counter, sink, or chair with your hand gently grasping the counter surface.
- Put one foot directly in front of the other, so that one heel is touching the opposite toes.
- Gently lift your hand up, but keep it close to the counter in case you need to grab it quickly. Try to hold this for 10 seconds (only do this if you feel safe or have someone nearby to help you).
- Now try it with your eyes closed.
- Do you wobble or lose your balance? This means your balance needs work.
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), over 2.5 million adults were treated for nonfatal injuries in emergency departments in 2013. In older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries. Most people don’t think about keeping their balance in shape until it is too late and they suffer a harsh fall.
The good news is that most falls can easily be prevented, simply by the regular exercising of your balance system. If you have recently sustained a balance-related injury, it is important to seek the help of a physical therapist immediately, in order to avoid additional injuries in the future.
It is important to note that you should also contact a physical therapist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness or vertigo (“spinning” sensations, even when remaining still).
- Inability to focus or remain alert.
- Double vision or tunnel vision.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Arm or leg weakness.
- Abnormal eye movements.
- Difficulty standing up from a seated position or standing for prolonged periods of time.
What’s causing my balance issues?
There are several factors that can impact your balance. Just a few include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
- Meniere’s disease.
- Vestibular neuritis.
- Poor posture.
- Injury or ailment.
- Neurological issues, such as brain injuries, stroke, or Parkinson’s disease.
The make-up of your treatment plan will be dependent upon the origin of your balance issue. When you arrive at our clinic, your physical therapist will walk you through a comprehensive exam in order to gauge the nature of your condition and figure out the best course of treatment for your needs.
Whatever the case may be, all treatment plans will contain targeted balance exercises and stretches to help improve your core, vestibular system, and overall proprioception. Depending on your condition, vestibular rehabilitation and videonystagmography may also be included in your treatment plan.
Vestibular rehabilitation, defined
As previously stated, it is likely that you will undergo some sort of vestibular rehabilitation for your individualized balance treatment plan.
Vestibular rehabilitation has proven successful in treating a wide variety of balance and gait disorders in patients.
In fact, according to the VEDA website, “Evidence has shown that vestibular rehabilitation can be effective in improving symptoms related to many vestibular (inner ear/balance) disorders. People with vestibular disorders often experience problems with vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbance, and/or imbalance. These are the problems that rehabilitation aims to address. Other problems can also arise that are secondary to vestibular disorders, such as nausea and/or vomiting, reduced ability to focus or concentrate, and fatigue.”
But you may be wondering, “what exactly is it?” As stated by the National Institutes of Health, “Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is an exercise-based treatment program designed to promote vestibular adaptation and substitution. The goals of VRT are 1) to enhance gaze stability, 2) to enhance postural stability, 3) to improve vertigo, and 4) to improve activities of daily living.”
At our clinic, we are happy to say we can provide you with the right treatment plan for your needs, so you can get back to living your life comfortably!
Ready to get started?
Are you ready to get back on your feet and decrease your risk of sustaining a balance-related injury? Contact us to schedule a consultation and get started today!