Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to South Jersey

Prevent Falls
Utilize a Physical Therapist

If you’re having pain or frequent falls, did you know that you can be helped by a physical therapist? 

A physical therapist is a highly educated, licensed health care professional, trained to examine and evaluate medical and health issues in order to help people restore and maximize functional mobility and activities.  If you find yourself having pain or difficulty with activities like grocery shopping, dressing yourself, travelling, golf and recreational hobbies, and family fun, a physical therapy consult would be appropriate.  Physical therapists complete master’s or clinical doctorate degrees and apply research and proven techniques to help people achieve their goals.

You may ask, “How can I see a physical therapist in this complicated world of healthcare?” 

In almost every state, you may see a physical therapist directly without a referral from a physician first. 

Did you know that approximately 1/3 of people over the age of 65 report falling at least once per year? 

And as you get older, a fall may be much more devastating.  While only 5% of falls result in bone fracture, a larger percentage of people that fall can develop other issues such as pain, bruising, and sprains.   All of these conditions can have a negative impact on daily living and it is important to realize that physical therapy will provide you with the strength, balance, and walking speed necessary to reduce the of risk of falling and injuring yourself  in the first place.  For example, in order to safely cross an intersection your walking speed must average greater than 1.2 meters per second. 

Why are we at increased risk for falling as we age?

There are many changes that take place as the body ages that can make someone more susceptible to falls.  Decreased muscle strength, changes in blood pressure, sensory and vision changes, medication interactions, and even your home environment are some of a long list of things that may lead to increased risk of falls.  Muscle strength plateaus around age 50 then slowly declines until age 80 when there is a rapid decline in strength. 

Is there anything I can do to prevent my risk of falling?

Programs that include balance and moderate-intensity muscle-strengthening activities for 90 minutes a week plus moderate-intensity walking for about an hour a week can help reduce falls.  

What areas will a physical therapist assess?

By assessing muscle strength, previous fall history, your gait, and vestibular and balance systems, a physical therapist can identify the specific problems that have led to recent accidents.  A physical therapist is also trained to recognize when further medical intervention is needed and can provide you with a referral to the appropriate specialist or your primary care physician.

Receive health benefits in addition to preventing falls.

Increasing strength and overall activity levels will not only prevent falls but will also decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis, among others.  By seeing a physical therapist you will be treated by a skilled professional trained to evaluate all possible issues related to pain,  balance or falls  including issues with  muscle strength, medication interaction, nutrition, or illness. 

Check out your local physical therapist today to improve your balance and promote a healthy lifestyle!

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