How Physical Therapy Can Help Prevent Falls
National Falls Prevention Awareness Week occurs in September (in fact, it’s purposefully timed to coincide with the first week of fall). This annual program helps raise awareness that each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. And falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Many falls happen at random and are not caused by age or a lack of physical fitness. But as we get older, things like vision problems, lower-body weakness, and medication side effects can raise the risk of falls. That’s why working with a physical therapist (PT) before an accident happens can help prevent falls or lessen their impact by improving the person’s balance, motor control, and strength.
The LifeCare Advocates team includes Cheryl Walsh, MPT, an experienced licensed physical therapist. In conjunction with our care management services, Cheryl’s expertise will help our clients reach their goals for aging in place or help them achieve the best possible outcome after a fall or hospitalization.
Physical therapy for prevention and recovery
Most of us think of PTs as professionals who help us recover after an injury. But PTs are experts with the human body and its movement. They can:
- Create custom exercises that help the client improve their strength, endurance and flexibility.
- Set up an exercise routine that the client can do on their own at home.
- Educate family members or other caregivers about the exercises and how to help if needed.
The PT’s guidance and expertise can help an older person not only avoid falling in the first place, but also recover faster if they are injured.
For those who are hospitalized after a fall, the PT can help by:
- Coordinating with the hospital and home care professionals to ensure the client can return home safely and maintain their mobility.
- Training the client and caregivers in fall prevention.
- Training caregivers in safe mobility and exercise programs.
Advising home modifications
With Cheryl’s expertise, people who want to age in place can also learn about the home modifications they might need to make to ensure their safety and ease of mobility. Cheryl can tour the home and make recommendations, which might range from simply re-arranging the furniture or installing safety bars in the bathroom, to larger projects such as adding wheelchair ramps and widening doorways. If the client decides to act on the recommendations, LifeCare Advocates will arrange to have the work completed.
“Physical therapists are highly trained healthcare professionals, with an expertise in movement and exercise,” says the National Council on Aging. “Their skills and knowledge base are essential when dealing with the complexities of aging.” Please contact us to learn more about how LifeCare Advocates and Cheryl’s expertise might be of assistance.