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Understanding Fall Risks

A

ccording to the National
Council on Aging, falls are the
leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. In
fact, more than one out of four older
people falls each year, but less than
half tell their doctor. And, falling
once doubles your chances of falling
again. The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention reports that
every 11 seconds, an older adult
is treated in the emergency room
for a fall and every 19 minutes,
an old adult dies from a fall. Thus,
falls significantly threaten safety
and independence and generate
enormous economic and personal
costs. There are many risk factors
that contribute to falling including
weakness, vitamin deficiency,
generalized imbalance, vestibular
deficits, vertigo, some medications,
vision problems, and joint pain. The
risk of falling is serious, especially as
people age and begin to lose their
balance. However, it is something
that isn’t talked about enough and is
not an inevitable result of aging. At
Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers
of Dakota Dunes, we want you to
understand the importance of fall
risks, and how we can help you
prevent them. We are dedicated to
reducing dizziness and falls through
specialized therapy programs and
education on practical lifestyle
adjustments.
Things to ask yourself to assess
your fall risk:
• Have I fallen in the past year?
• Do I use or have I been advised
to use a cane or walker?
• Do I sometimes lose my balance
when walking?
• Do I worry about falling?
• Do I use my arms to push myself
up from a chair?
• Do I sometimes have trouble
stepping up onto a curb?
• Does my body sways when

standing stationary?
• Do I take short narrow steps?
• Do I stumble often or look at the
ground when I walk?
• Do I frequently have to rush to
the toilet?
• Have I lost some feeling in one
or both of my feet?
• Does my medication makes me
feel light-headed or sleepy?
If you answered yes to four or
more, you are at risk for falls and
should see a healthcare professional
as soon as possible to see what you
can do to minimize your risk.
How Will Physical Therapy
Help Me?
Your physical therapist will assess
your medical history to determine
how many risk factors toward falling
you may have. They will educate you
on what these factors mean, as well
as steps you can take to decrease
your risk. After this, they will perform
a thorough physical evaluation to
figure out what the best treatment
plan for you will be.
Your initial physical therapy
evaluation may consist of several
parts to better determine what your
most problematic factors are. These
may include vision tests, thinking
tests, resting heart rate checks, active
heart rate checks, and evaluations
of your gait, balance, range of
motion, and strength. Based on the

results of this evaluation,
your physical therapist will
design a treatment plan
around your specific needs.
These plans are aimed first
and foremost at reducing
your risk of falling, but
they will also aid you in
improving balance, strength,
flexibility, endurance, and
overall movement.
Some common forms of
treatment include:
• Pain management. Your physical
therapist will want to make sure that
your treatment is as comfortable as
possible, so you will work together
on relieving pain.
• Walking and moving programs.
This part of your treatment plan is
aimed at getting you back to your
normal physical function when
walking and/or moving. Your
physical therapist may ask you to
perform certain activities, such as
walking in a circle, completing an
obstacle course, or dancing.
• Balance training. Balance is
a large part of fall prevention,
as lack of stability is one of the
main reasons why falls occur. Your
physical therapist will design a
balance training plan for you as part
of your treatment, and may ask you
to perform certain balance-based
activities, such as standing on one
leg or holding your balance while
performing a mentallystimulating task (such as
reciting the alphabet or
reading a page from a
book).
• Strength training.
Strength training is typically
paired with your balance
training. Your physical
therapist will design a
strength training plan for
you, which will focus on
specific muscle groups in

need of improvement. The goal of
this will be to improve your standing
and walking balance, as well as
your ability to recover from a loss of
balance.
• Endurance training. Endurance
training is all about working up to
more advanced levels of the same
form of treatment. Your physical
therapist may provide you with an
aerobic exercise program, such
as walking, and will slowly add
on time to those exercises, as your
endurance improves. For example,
your endurance training may begin
at 10-minute sessions and then may
progress to 30-minute sessions.
Fall prevention is extremely
important for those who are at risk
of experiencing falls. If you believe
our fall prevention treatment program
may benefit you, don’t hesitate to
give our office a call today (605217-4330). Don’t live in fear that
you may take a harsh fall - instead,
let Fyzical help you get back on your
feet!
Sources:
https://www.moveforwardpt.
com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.
aspx?cid=85726fb6- 14c4-4c169a4c-3736dceac9f0
http://www.apta.org/Media/
Releases/Consumer/2011/9/23/
http://www.apta.org/
BalanceFalls/

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