It is likely that we have all stumbled, tripped over something, or lost our balance at some point. Many times this may lead to a fall. Falls are one of the leading causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the world, and it is estimated that one third of community dwelling adults over the age of 65 fall every year.
There are many reasons we fall such as gait disturbance, dizziness, medication reactions, pure accidents, and a number of other reasons. Some common reasons associated with falls are muscle weakness, poor proprioception (understanding where our body is in space), and visual issues. In physical therapy, patients with a history of falls, fear of falling, or are at a high risk for falls, will be assessed to determine what may be contributing to their risk for falls by using strength testing, balance testing, and outcome measure scores.
After the proper assessment testing, the patient will receive a personalized program to address his/her specific deficits to decrease the likelihood for future falls. These treatments may involve strength training, changing surfaces for the patient to walk or stand on (hard surfaces, firm surfaces, or soft surfaces), changing the patient's base of support (narrow/wide/single leg), or changing the patient's visual cues (eyes closed/open, head turns).
All of these treatments are designed to challenge a patient safely in order to improve his/her body's reactions, improve balance confidence, and lower his/her likelihood for falls. If you have fallen or are afraid of sustaining a fall, find a physical therapist to help!