Maintaining our balance is an intricate work of multiple body systems, including our visual system, proprioceptive input from our receptors in the skin and joints, and information from our vestibular system in our ears. This information is then sent to the brain to be processed to maintain balance as we walk, run and enjoy our hobbies.1
The cause of poor balance can be from a wide range of reasons, including but not limited to overall weakness, multiple medications, stroke, dizziness and vertigo, diabetes, and many more. According to the US Preventative Services Task Force, falls are the leading cause of injury in adults aged 65 or older.2 However, the good news is that physical therapy spearheads this statistic and has been found to reduce the risk of falls! Physical therapists can provide a detailed examination and treatment plan for patients with balance impairments, including strengthening, increasing mobility, and providing various balance interventions to reduce the risk of falls in our communities. Research continues to show that physical therapy is a safe and effective approach to reducing the risk of falls for your loved ones and can help improve their overall level of functioning.
Many people have resorted to working from home and find themselves sitting for far too long and not exercising enough as we have continued to navigate COVID in our society. I speak for everyone when I say we spend too much time looking down at our cell phones while waiting in line at Publix, in the waiting room, or at lunch, which can impair our posture. Unfortunately, both of these scenarios can take a toll on our posture. Research shows poor posture is directly related to increased fall risk and poor balance, especially for older adults!3 Again, a physical therapist can provide great preventative strategies and exercises for patients of all ages to improve posture, which can reduce fall risk!
Dr Tyler Frazier, DPT
1) Hoffman S. How does the balance system work. American Physical Therapy Association, Section on Neurology. Accessed December 12, 2022.
2) Jin J. Prevention of Falls in Older Adults. JAMA. 2018;319(16):1734. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.4396
3) van der Jagt-Willems, H.C., de Groot, M.H., van Campen, J.P. et al. Associations between vertebral fractures, increased thoracic kyphosis, a flexed posture and falls in older adults: a prospective cohort study. BMC Geriatr 15, 34 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-015-0018-z