What Makes Up Balance? How to Prevent Falling

Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention

During evaluations with our patients, predominantly those over the age of 70, we recognize fear and concern that they reveal of losing their mobility or independence due to a fall.

They express how they don’t like it when it takes them multiple attempts to get up out of a chair, stool, or booth at a restaurant when they’re out with family and friends.

They don’t like it when they stand up and feel wobbly or unsteady, grabbing onto a table or even a loved one, out of fear that they’re going to fall.

Fear of falling is an enormous (and normal) issue that we face as we age.

Balance is composed of 3 components:

  • 1. Our vision
  • 2. Our vestibular system
  • 3. Our muscles in our lower legs

However, this does not mean that we cannot improve those things. Every one of those areas can be refined with physical therapy or with vision correction techniques like going to see your eye doctor.

So what do we do as physical therapists?

In our fall prevention programs, we include an evaluation that assesses where most of the issue or problem lies within your balance. We almost always treat leg strength because, as we get older, our leg strength and ability to prevent a fall get worse.

So, we do a few tests to identify where you are, what your current level of strength is, and then we test your balance.

It’s important to test your balance with your eyes both open and closed. Vision, as we explained earlier, is a huge component of balance. And actually, as we age, we rely more and more on our vision. In low-light situations like parking garages, movie theaters, or as we get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, it’s not surprising that it becomes a bigger problem when we can’t see very well! As our vision gets worse, we just can’t trust it as we used to… We turn to corrective lenses to improve our eyesight so that we can function better.

Once we’ve identified how bad your balance is, we’re able to provide exercises within the realm of ability to begin the baby steps towards improving your balance and lessening the fear of falling.

If you are having difficulty walking out in the grass because it’s a much less steady surface, or have to lean up against the wall while showering, you more than likely need help improving your balance to reduce the risk of falling!

Click Here to Arrange Your Free Discovery Visit
Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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