It is estimated that one in three adults, over the age of 65, suffer a fall each year.
The aging process often involves several factors that can lead to loss of balance or balance disorders, such as decreased mobility, muscle weakening, decreased input from the inner ear, increased incidence of vertigo, co-existing health conditions and multiple medications. Neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and head injuries can also impact an individual’s balance.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to prevent falls and problems with balance. The first step is to begin a regular exercise routine that incorporates walking, balance, and strengthening exercises.
Individuals who are taking multiple medications for co-existing health conditions should have their primary care provider review their medications to make sure none are causing side effects that may affect balance.
It is also important to have your vision checked, as it plays an integral role in balance.
Finally, make the home safer by removing throw rugs, installing grab bars in the bathroom and avoiding wearing socks or slippers on smooth surfaces.
Individuals who have already been experiencing falls or have suffered significant injury due to a fall should discuss the need for further treatment with their primary care doctor. Physical therapy can teach patients proper exercise routines to help improve their balance, as well as assess their need for assistive devices, such as canes and walkers. Cone Health Neurorehabilitation Center has an exceptional team of physical therapists and related healthcare providers dedicated to helping individuals in the community improve their balance and prevent falls.
Christina Weaver is a licensed physical therapist and balance and vestibular specialist at Cone Health Neurorehabilitation Center. Christina received a Bachelor of Science in zoology at N.C. State University in 1996, and a Master’s of physical therapy from Western Carolina University in 1998. She also received her vestibular certification from Emory University in 2002.