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Falling, Balance and Physical Therapy

Falling is a common problem amongst the elderly, and it can result in serious injury. It is estimated that one in every three adults aged 65 and older suffer from a fall every year. Fall related injuries range from hip fractures to head trauma. After a fall, patients experience a significant loss of confidence and a fear of falling when walking unaided. Recovery from a fall involves physical as well as psychological elements. It is important for the patient to seek physical therapy for treatment and fall prevention.

Why do elderly patients fall?

Visual problems, muscle weakness and low blood pressure can cause a loss of balance, which leads to a fall. Other reasons include conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that affect the nerves.

Occasionally, middle ear problems (vestibular problems) can occur and balance can be affected. The good news is, falls can be largely prevented with the right precautions.

 

Can Your Body Act as Resistance?

A physical therapist is trained to help individuals improve balance between muscle groups and increase joint stability. The physical therapist will begin with a detailed neuromuscular assessment to identify muscle imbalances and integrity of the nervous system.

The physical therapist will conduct different tests to determine your sense of balance as you sit, stand and walk. The speed and the stability with which you walk are also evaluated. This becomes the foundation for a balance program, in which you can use your own bodyweight as a source of resistance.

Balance exercises such as single-leg standing under the supervision of a physical therapist are beneficial. Different activities to improve balance while walking and changing positions and direction train the body to prevent falls. The objective is to be able to handle different tasks at the same time while staying in an upright position.

MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL THERAPY

 

Physical therapy is an important aspect of fall treatment and prevention. For starters, a physical therapist will assess your footwear and the safety of your home to eliminate factors that could result in an inadvertent fall.

Your therapist will use several techniques including core stabilization exercises and manual therapy to improve balance and stability. Your bodyweight is an excellent source of resistance for your muscles. The therapist will challenge your sense of balance in a controlled environment by shifting your center of gravity. This activates important muscle groups in the neck, trunk, abdomen and hip muscles.

As the body adapts to these exercises over a period of time, the risk for falls reduces. The therapist will also provide you with a simple exercise program that you can do at home, without the need for any equipment or devices.

Amazing Benefits of Physical Therapy to Female Athlete Triad

The Female Athlete Triad is a group of interrelated conditions that affect female athletes, particularly teenage athletes. It is widely believed that an energy imbalance is the cause, combined with competitive forces. This disrupts eating patterns and body image for female athletes. Despite the fact that this is common in athletes, several aspects of the triad are seen in non-athletes as well.

The three medical conditions associated with the triad are:

  1. Disordered eating: anorexia, purging, induced vomiting
  2. Amenorrhea: stoppage of menstrual cycles
  3. Osteoporosis: low bone mass/density

Causes

There are times when the athlete exercises excessively while the body is experiencing an energy deficit. A reduced caloric intake combined with malnutrition leads to a pattern of disordered eating.

The pressure to ‘be thin’ is compounded by a society that idolizes celebrities and pop stars. This can result in compulsive dieting and exercise. For a growing teenage athlete, bone density can be compromised if there are deficiencies in protein, vitamins and calcium. For female athletes participating in figure skating, ballet and gymnastics in particular, awareness is critical.

Symptoms

Coaches, parents and guardians should be aware of the following warning signs:

  • Rapid weight loss or marked leanness
  • Obsession about weight, body image and food.
  • Shin splints that don’t heal and stress fractures.
  • Reduced participation or loss of interest in sports
Exercise and Nutrition – A Healthy Foundation for Every Individual

Treatment involves:

  1. Prevention of compulsive dieting by working with a sports nutritionist.
  2. Increasing the strength of muscles, ligaments, bones and joints.
  3. Be in a progressive exercise program designed by a physical therapist.

Physical therapy for athletes begins with a detailed evaluation of the flexibility, strength, range of motion and athletic goals.

The physical therapist is a critical member of the healthcare team and works closely with a coach and athletic trainer. The physical therapist may use a combination of the following treatments:

  • Ultrasound to heal connective tissue (tendons and ligaments).
  • Manual therapy that includes stretching and massage.
  • Resistance training to increase muscle strength.
  • Cold compress for acute injuries and heat to relax muscular spasms.
  • Russian Electrical Stimulation aids in reactivation of muscle.
  • IFC Electrical Stimulation for pain relief.
  • The use of tape to support muscles and assistive devices as needed to support joints.
Success Starts with the Right Attitude

Physical therapy can keep young athletes healthy, strong and safe, but success begins with the right attitude towards the inner and outer self. Every physical active female should take three simple precautions to protect against the triad:

  1.   Eat healthy meals at regular intervals. Use nutritional supplementation if necessary.
  2. Discuss menstrual irregularities (or sudden fluctuations in body weight) with your physician.
  3. Track exercise and calorie expenditure.

An environment that makes the female athlete feel safe and comfortable encourages honest conversations that help identify underlying problems. If you suspect that someone in your family has some of the symptoms associated with the triad, seek medical attention immediately. Physical therapy is an important part of long-term treatment of this condition. In fact, physical therapy can help most individuals to live a healthy, improved quality of life. Call us today to schedule an appointment. Your success is our success.