Health Blog

Five Balance and Falling Facts to Know, Plus Practical Physical Therapy Tips

balance and falling facts

If you’re over 50, you’ve maybe realized your physical balance isn’t quite as good lately as it was when you were younger. This might occur by experiencing dizziness from time to time, or not being able to maintain balance while walking in precarious places. This can obviously become concerning, especially if you’ve almost taken a few spills as a result.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced some falls over the last few years or months, most of which didn’t harm you severely. However, what would happen if you ended up in a more severe fall? This could bring major head trauma and a concussion. Or, you could end up with physical injuries you never recover from.

Any signs of balance problems should become an immediate red flag for you and your family. The solution is to take some action doing physical therapy.

Don’t automatically think this means overly strenuous activities you can’t realistically do. When it comes to physical therapy, you don’t have to start doing exercises like an Olympic athlete. Many practical tips exist you can do in a slow and careful manner to improve your balance within weeks or months.

Before you start, it’s worth looking at these five facts on balance and falling to give you an idea of how serious it’s become for people in your age group.

Fact #1: Many Older People Aren’t Aware Their Balance is Bad

As Prevention notes, far too many older people don’t pay enough attention to their physical balance, despite noticing slight physical signs. You may write it off as natural clumsiness if you’ve had a few minor falls when out hiking or climbing stairs.

The thing is, even normally agile people have to work on their balance, because it can start to decline as you age. Balance is actually a separate system, just like strength and flexibility. If you already work on those latter two, it’s important to integrate balance therapy.

Fact #2: Falls Occur More Often Than You Think as You Age

Statistics show one-third of all people over the age of 65 end up having a fall at least once. This increases to one-half of all people aged 80 or more. In all cases, these falls lead to serious injuries like lacerations, hip fractures, or head trauma.

If you’ve already had this happen, you need to take action now. This is because if you’ve fallen once, you’re two to three times more apt to have it happen again.

Fact #3: Balance Disorders Lead to Other Problems

Consider that if you’re dealing with a balance disorder, it could lead to more than just falling. It could result in perpetual fatigue, or general disinterest in living an independent lifestyle. When you can’t walk steadily, you’re already eliminating many life activities while ruining any desire for leisure.

Just chalking this up to normal aging isn’t right, because balance problems aren’t natural.

Fact #4: The Death Rate From Falls is Staggering

According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult dies from fall injuries every 19 minutes in America. This stunning statistic shows how often falls occur, and treatment for them happens every 11 seconds somewhere in the nation.

This equals out to 27,000 deaths from falls per year, not including 2.8 million fall injuries treated in emergency rooms annually.

Fact #5: The Medical Costs for Falls are Rising

The NCOA above also reports costs from fall injuries were up to $34 billion per year as of 2013. You can only imagine it’s exceeded this figure somewhat once new statistics are released.

With health care costs already rising, this places a great burden on our healthcare system.

Through these facts, you see why you need to take action on physical therapy if you’re noticing daily balance problems. Here’s some practical therapy steps you can use to start helping your balance issues immediately.

Standing On One Leg

There isn’t any more practical physical therapy technique for helping balance than standing on one leg for a prolonged period. Once you start doing physical therapy with a professional, this is one of the first exercises you’ll do. Obviously, this should take place first with someone by your side in case you lose your balance.

All it entails is to simply stand up, close your eyes, and lift one leg up. You need to hold this for 10 to 15 seconds to help improve your balance.

Numerous variations exist on this classic exercise. The “Yoga Tree” places your raised leg against the thigh of your standing leg. Another called the Taiji Stance has you place your arms in a blocking position while doing the leg stand.

Overall, doing any of these regularly improves your stability and balance.

Doing Squats

It’s possible you’ll find doing squats a little easier on first try than the one-leg stand. Building quads in your legs helps give you more strength in your legs to break falls if you start to lose your balance at home or elsewhere.

All you need to do is set your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and hips, then slowly lower yourself. Be sure to keep your arms straight out and your back as straight as possible. Stop the squat as soon as your thighs are parallel with the floor.

Testing Your Balance on Two Feet

While the above exercises are very basic, you need to start slow. After more vigorous physical therapy later, you can test your balance while standing. Just stand with ankle bones touching and arms folded across your chest. Close your eyes and stand in place for a minute without moving.

Gradually move one foot in front of the other while keeping your eyes closed. Staying mostly in place during this proves to you how valuable your physical therapy is, giving you incentive to keep it going indefinitely.

Contact us at Orthopedic and Balance Therapy Specialists to learn about our superior physical therapy techniques for eliminating balance issues, as well as debilitating pain.

Balance and Dizziness Workshop

Share my expertise and the expertise of my small army of Balance and Dizziness Specialists. During the workshop–

I will reveal the single biggest #1 mistake most balance and dizziness sufferers make…and how to not make this mistake…and if you make this mistake…learn how to overcome it.

You will learn the 3 most common causes of vertigo…dizziness…balance problems…and unsteadiness.

Most importantly, I will show you a sure fire way to pick the right treatment for the cause of your condition.

Click here to register for the Valparaiso Balance and Dizziness Workshop.

Click here to register for the Crown Point Balance and Dizziness Workshop.

Click here to register for the LaPorte Balance and Dizziness Workshop.

 

To your balanced self,

Arlan Alburo

 

 

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Barbara Serynek
Barbara Serynek
18:52 03 Oct 19
The entire staff has been very pleasant, professional and accommodating. Both Kristen and Joe have given me the best massages. Kate and Kollin made sure that I was doing my excercises and helped to move things along. Feeling better every visit. I'm so glad that I chose Orthopedic & Balance.
Heidi Richardson
Heidi Richardson
17:00 19 Sep 19
I went to physical therapy not expecting it to do very much to help because that’s the way I approach everything with low expectations. Noel and his team have made my neck feel so much better that it puts me in a more positive mood each day and I actually feel more positive and more productive on a day-to-day basis..
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I could barely walk into OBTS six weeks ago. I had very bad lower back and hip pain. The progress has been life changing for me. I always walk out of there with little or no pain. The staff, Laura, Dr Diane, Angie and, of course, Peggy, have taught me so much to keep my pain at bay. I highly recommend this team.
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Amazing staff and amazing care. I came in barely able to stand up straight due to a back injury. After 6 weeks, I feel like brand new. Everyone was extremely helpful and easy to work with. Highly recommended!
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I am a PTA student that was required 16 hours of observation time. I had the pleasure of completing my hours at this Valpo location. The staff is incredibly friendly. They were quick to make me feel at home. In a way I was sad to leave, but happy to continue on. I hope to eventually work in this field with a work family this caring and knowledgeable about their profession.
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15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
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Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
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My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
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02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
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