Approximately 50 percent of people ages 65 and older will have at least one fall each year. These falls sometimes result in life-changing injuries. To prevent falls and improve the balance and strength of the average senior when walking, standing climbing stairs, and more, we recommend balance training with one of our highly skilled physical therapists. You will enhance your stability and ensure a better quality of life for the long term
The Goals of Balance Training
As part of a detailed program of physical therapy and as part of your daily routine at home, balance training improves overall strength and stability of movement. Standardized balance exercises, such as heel-to-toe walking, using a balance board, or practicing Tai Chi or Yoga, can improve:
- Overall flexibility and range of motion, particularly in the lower extremities
- Core, hip, and leg strength
- Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense where it is and how it is moving in three dimensions
What Balance Training Involves
As part of a physical therapy plan, you will come to one of our state-of-the-art clinics for a full functional capacity evaluation, or FCE. This assessment gives the therapist real data and information about your current abilities, both physical and cognitive. Also, you will discuss your home environment and any challenges to balance and mobility, such as stairs, scatter rugs, uneven sidewalks, and other potential hazards to balance and safety.
Finally, your therapist will assess your gait–how you place your feet as you walk. You may be evaluated for the use of an assistive device, such as a walker or cane, too.
Then, prepared with this patient-centered information, your therapist can show you exercises to do in the clinic and at home. These exercises may include:
- Standing on one foot
- Walking heel to toe
- Squats, lunges, and calf raises
Rest assured, your physical therapist will assist you with these exercises as needed, providing for your safety and demonstrating the correct technique for maximum benefit. Be sure to communicate to your therapist if you feel weak, lightheaded, or very unsteady. At home, have a loved one or friend with you until you feel certain you can do your exercise regimens safely and accurately by yourself.
Vestibular training may be part of a balance-oriented plan of physical therapy. The vestibule in the inner ear is responsible for maintaining your balance. People with vestibular problems experience what doctors and therapists call Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV.
BPPV makes people dizzy when they move their head in a specific direction. If you experience dizziness when you sit up in bed, turn over, or lie down in bed, you may have BPPV. This condition can occur after a blow to the head, damage to the inner ear, or if you’ve been lying back for a long time, such as after a dentist appointment.
When this happens, the crystals in your inner ear may become dislodged from their normal location and end up in a different structure within the inner ear.
Physical therapists can show people specific ways to move those crystals into better positions within the ear and to improve balance and gait. The most common way is called the Epley maneuver, and it can be done on the treatment table in the physical therapy clinic and at home in the patient’s own bed.
The Epley maneuver is easy to learn and to do. Patients report a high degree of success when using these specific head and body movements, and the Epley maneuver improves their confidence when getting up from a prone or seated position and when ambulating.
Physical Therapy and Balance Training Near Midlothian, VA
If you are a senior who wishes to improve independent movement, strength, flexibility, and more, you will benefit from a balance evaluation at Rankin Physical Therapy. Our therapists are highly trained in individualized balance assessments and in developing exercise plans to keep people on their feet and moving safely.
We recommend you call Rankin Physical Therapy, an H2 Health extension branch, location nearest to you for a consultation. Additionally, request your appointment here. Come see us soon!