Have you noticed that your balance seems to be deteriorating as the years go by? Many would say this is just a natural part of getting older, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

American Journal reports that 30 percent of seniors experience at least one fall each year. This statistic is important considering 40 percent of falls that result in hospital stays are attributable to hip fractures. Now there’s finally help to improve your stability, aid in your mobility, and prevent falls.

The multi-specialty team of doctors at Multicare works together in-house with physical medicine, rehabilitation and physical therapy specialists to help identify the source of your balance problem. Then your team will discuss treatment options with you and recommend the best treatment approach suited for you.

Why Does Your Balance Get Worse as You Age?

Use It or Lose It

You’ve probably heard of the “use it or lose it” principle regarding health and fitness. It basically states that if you don’t get enough physical activity, your heart, bones and muscles will get weaker. However, the more you use them, the stronger they will become.

This same principle also applies to balance. If you don’t regularly put your body in situations that require balance, your sense of balance will worsen. Your body adapts to your lifestyle, and your brain does not see any reason to keep your sense of balance in good shape if it’s not being used very much. Alternatively, the more you use your balance, the better it becomes.

Balance and Aging

As we age, many of us start to move less and less. This usually happens after retirement. Take a minute to think about how much activity you get on a typical day compared to 20 years ago.

Generally, as we get older, activities that involve a lot of movement (like sports, yard work, and playing with kids) are slowly replaced with activities that involve a lot of sitting (like reading, watching TV, playing cards, and going out to eat).

Here's the problem--movement requires balance, sitting does not.

The activities you were doing when you were younger were not only keeping your heart, bones and muscles strong—they were also keeping your balance in good shape.

The good news is that the “use it or lose it” principle is a two-way street. Everyone knows that you can train your heart and muscles to make them stronger. You can also train your balance.

The Wrong Way to Deal with Poor Balance

All too often, as people’s balance worsens, they tend to reduce their daily activity level out of a fear of falling. They don’t want to do anything that might cause them to fall. Therefore, decreasing those activities means that your sense of balance does not get as much use, allowing it to deteriorate further (due to the “use it or lose it” principle).

This can develop into a vicious cycle:

Decrease in activity over the years=

Balance gets worse=

Further decrease in activity out of fear of falling=

Balance gets even worse

The end result of this cycle is the person can’t walk anywhere without having one hand on something sturdy, like a couch, the wall, a cane or another person. This is the type of person who routinely will not participate in outings with their family and friends because they think they might fall.

Poor balance causes a lower quality of life and is the reason that falls account for 65 percent of all injuries among seniors.

The problem is, you can’t completely quarantine yourself from falling. Even if you don’t go out much, and you try to avoid any potentially hazardous situations, life will eventually throw an unexpected scenario at you that will challenge your balance.

That challenge can result in a fall, and it often does. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), falls are the most common cause of injury and the No. 1 reason for admission to the hospital for people over age 65.

The Balance Remedy

By now you’re probably thinking, “Okay, I understand that the activities that I used to do were also training my balance, but I can’t just go out and start running around like a teenager to exercise my sense of balance.”

You're right. At this point, a lot of those things you used to do might be dangerous for your body. That’s why the skilled team of doctors at Multicare Health Clinic has created an unparalleled Balance Correction Program. We can now challenge and improve your balance with state-of-the-art equipment in a safe, clinical environment.

To improve balance, we may need to place you in situations where you will be slightly unstable. During these moments of instability, your brain is learning how to coordinate the muscles of your entire body much faster and more efficiently to keep you stable.

Multicare’s New Balance Training Equipment maximizes the benefits of motor and neurological training and quantifiably assesses your progress. The digital display provides continuous patient feedback during treatment and objective measures that are creating a custom program to improve your balance.

Your individual balance program is done in a controlled environment that stimulates your sense of balance while minimizing risk. This highly innovative approach, supported by research to prevent falls, is called “Controlled Instability.”

At Multicare, we assemble a team of multiple types of doctors who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. You can trust our doctors to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

During your first visit, if interested, ask your doctor if you might be a candidate for clinical trials and whether Multicare Health Clinic may be conducting a clinical trial related to your condition or procedure.

For the very first time, Multicare Health Clinic is offering this Balance Screening for FREE from May 6 – May 17 at its 3930 Stadium Drive location across from Jensen Imports in Sioux City. Call (712) 276-4325 to schedule your appointment today. Please note, proper balance screenings do take time, therefore appointments are limited to a first come, first served basis.

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