Senior Citizen's Guide to Washington County Spring/Summer Edition 2017 - page 28

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Jordan Rohaus, PT, DPT,
physical therapist at UPMC
Centers for Rehab Services’ South
Hills location discusses vestibular
rehabilitation, or balance therapy,
and what can be done to prevent
seniors from falling.
What is vestibular
rehabilitation?
Vestibular rehabilitation is a
type of physical therapy in which
patients are evaluated and treated
for disorders affecting their balance
system. Their symptoms include
dizziness and imbalance. Patients
who need vestibular rehabilitation
may range from young adults who
had a concussion, to older adults
who have various issues that affect
their balance.
What causes dizziness and
vertigo?
The r e a r e many pos s i bl e
causes for dizziness including
low blood pressure disturbance of
the inner ear, and side effects from
medication. It can also be caused
by more serious conditions such
as stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Benign paroxysmal positional
vertigo, or BPPV, is the most
common cause of vertigo. It is
caused by calcium carbonate
Balance Therapy to Prevent Fall Risk
crystals, or otoconia, coming
out of place within the inner ear.
Physical therapists can perform
specific head maneuvers to put the
crystals back into place.
Why are older adults more prone
to falling?
Older adults are more prone to
falling for a multitude of reasons,
including vision impairment,
orthopaedic injuries such as a
hip or knee replacement, and
conditions such as diabetes or heart
disease. Side effects from certain
medications can also increase the
risk of falling in older adults.
What can be done to prevent
seniors from falling?
Physical therapists can help
prevent seniors from falling by
encouraging them to stay active
and exercise to build strength and
flexibility. They can also have them
practice performing functional
activities such as getting out of
a chair and walking. Physical
therapists can encourage patients
to follow up regularly with their
doctor to review their medications,
remind them to get their eyes
examined, and educate them on a
home exercise program so that they
can maintain their balance.
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