Balance is a dynamic condition that is necessary for the ability to maneuver and move within our environment. If this is affected the result is a problem with walking. Walking is our mode of transportation other than being in a vehicle. To be able to interact safely within our environment it is necessary to be able to adjust our balance continuously while walking and moving. This skill is needed to accommodate for moving on a variety of surfaces. If balance is a concern or problem the end result can be a limitation in the level of participation in the enjoyable aspects of life. Fear of falling can cause one to stay within the confine of their home. This can have a negative effect on socialization as well as contribute to further deconditioning. Another possible sequela is depression. As we age socialization continues to be an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If we are fearful of leaving our home we risk isolation. Other potential consequences of poor balance are the increased risk of suffering a fall and further injury such as hip fracture. Hospitalization and recovery can be prolonged and costly.
Many balance problems can be improved with Physical Therapy intervention. Physical Therapists are trained in techniques to assess the fall risk that a person has. By having them perform a variety of fairly simple tests that can quantify the persons risk category a baseline is established. Once this has been completed and the therapist has done a thorough evaluation, which may include contacting your physician for helpful information regarding your condition the therapist will work with you to develop and implement an individualized program. This will be specifically tailored to your needs. The therapist will then work with you on techniques to improve your stability.The PT will be able to encourage safety techniques to be followed at home. The therapist will work with you over a period of time. Balance improves but it takes time and a commitment usually 8-10 weeks of therapy 1-2 times a week is needed to effect a significant change. Over the course of therapy retesting of balance is done to ascertain improvements as you progress in your therapy. Most balance deficits improve over time with intervention.
As stated, progress can be slow, and tedious work is needed, but is usually steady as long as you are consistent with keeping your appointments and following the home exercises that the therapist will instruct you in.
If you have any questions or would like to contact Flynn Physical Therapy to schedule an evaluation please call (978)546-2090.