With October being Senior’s month, a physiotherapy issue is falls and balance. Falls are a major cause of harm to the older population. Statistics indicated that approximately 25 per cent of people aged 65 or older have experienced a fall in the past 12 months. Surprisingly, the majority of these falls occurred in and around people’s homes.
Fortunately, it is possible to improve balance and become more stable on your feet. Understanding how your balance works and how it is affected can reduce the risk of falling
How does balance work?
Balance is reliant upon an excellent visual systems, vestibular (inner ear) systems, core stability and hip and leg control. It is important that these systems are all able to work efficiently and together to reduce the likelihood of falls.
How can physiotherapy help balance?
Physiotherapists regularly perform balance assessments and assist clients with balance retraining. When assessing balance, it is important to assess both static and dynamic balance.
Static balance is important for everyday life and involves the ability to maintain control whilst stationary. To test your static balance, try and stand on one leg. Make sure you are standing next to a sturdy item, such as the kitchen bench or the sink. If this is too easy, try testing your balance by removing your visual field and close your eyes whilst balancing on one leg. Without the ability to maintain static balance, your chances of falling with movement or increased loading are high.
Dynamic balance involves being able to avoid falling whilst moving, such as when reaching, walking, jogging, jumping or even throwing. The more demanding and quicker the movement, the better your dynamic balance needs to be to be able to cope.
With practice, balance can be improved over time. In most cases, your balance deficits can be quickly improved with specific balance or stability exercises. Our physios at Malvern East Physiotherapy are equipped to assess your dynamic and static balance through a number of easy and safe techniques. We can identify and tailor specific exercises which can make a big difference to reduce the likelihood of falls. These exercises can be performed safely at home or with the supervision of our physiotherapists with our strengthening exercise classes.
If you are concerned about any aspect of your balance consult our team today at Malvern East Physiotherapy for a balance assessment. Remember, it’s never too late to start!