Physical Therapists Perform Important Roll in Aging Well
Capability Homecare is proud to recognize the impact that Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist assistants make in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives during National Physical Therapy Month.
Physical Therapist’s Guide to Balance Problems
Balance problems make it difficult for people to maintain stable and upright positions when standing, walking, and even sitting. Older people are at a higher risk of having balance problems; 75% of Americans older than 70 years are diagnosed as having “abnormal” balance. Older women are more likely than older men to develop balance problems, although the difference between the genders is small. Balance problems increase by almost 30% in people aged 80 years or more. Physical therapists develop individualized physical activity plans to help improve the strength, stability, and mobility of people with balance problems.
- Balance problems occur when 1 or more of 4 systems in the body are not working properly:
o Inner ear
o Muscular system
o Awareness of one’s own body position (called “proprioception”)
Poor vision can result from age, eye tracking problems, or eye diseases. Inner ear problems, also called vestibular problems, can develop from trauma, aging, poor nutrition, or disease. Body-position sense can become abnormal as a result of trauma or a disease, such as diabetes. Muscle strength and flexibility can decline due to lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle, or disease.
The brain coordinates impulses from the eye, inner ear, and body-position senses, and sends signals to the muscular system to move or make adjustments to maintain balance. If one or more of the senses is not sending correct signals to the brain, or if the muscular system cannot carry out the necessary movements, a person may not be able to maintain or correct their balance.
- How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Physical therapists offer numerous options for treating balance problems, based on each person’s needs. They are trained to evaluate multiple systems of the body, including the muscles, joints, inner ear, eye tracking ability, skin sensation, and position awareness in the joints (proprioception). Physical therapists are experts in prescribing active movement techniques and physical exercise to improve these systems, including strengthening, stretching, proprioception exercises, visual tracking, and inner ear retraining.
Your physical therapist can help treat your balance problems by identifying their causes, and designing an individual treatment program to address your specific needs, including exercises you can do at home with your caregiver.
For more information about our trusted physical therapist partners, please call Capability Homecare.
Additional information about balance is available at the following link: