Physical Therapy to Reduce Fall Risk for Seniors

elderly woman working on fall prevention in physical therapy

Accidental falls injure millions of Americans age 65 and over every year. One out of every five falls results in broken bones or a head injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also warns that falling just once makes it twice as likely you will fall again.

CDC statistics estimate over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of injuries from a fall. The majority of these hospitalizations are due to a head injury or hip fracture. Fall-related injuries can cause chronic pain and functional limitations while adversely impacting your quality of life. In some cases, falls can even be fatal.

Factors that Increase Fall Risk

There are several factors that increase the likelihood of a fall, including:

  • Problems with balance, walking, strength, and flexibility
  • Vision problems
  • Orthostatic hypotension (blood pressure that drops when you stand up)
  • Use of alcohol, certain medications, or multiple medications
  • Home hazards (throw rugs, dim lighting, trip hazards, absence of grab bars in the bathroom)
  • Unsafe footwear

How Physical Therapy Can Reduce Your Fall Risk

Poor balance and muscle weakness are two of the biggest contributors to a fall. At MOTION PT Group, our licensed physical therapists will work with you to increase your balance, muscle strength, range of motion, and flexibility so you can feel confident when moving around.

We will also teach you how to safeguard your home from fall hazards, and, if you use an assistive device, we will teach you how to use the device safely.

Multiple studies have found the most effective physical therapy (PT) programs for fall prevention include a combination of balance and strength training.

Improving Balance and Strength

In your first session, we will conduct a functional assessment to determine your baseline or starting point. To do this, we will ask you to perform several activities designed to measure your current balance, strength, and gait. For example, we may ask you to stand from a seated position several times while we time you.

Once we know your baseline, we can design a physical therapy treatment plan that fits your specific needs. Your program may contain some or all of the following goals:

  • Strengthen core (includes major muscles that move, support, and stabilize the spine)
  • Strengthen legs and arms
  • Improve balance
  • Increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Improve walking gait
  • Strengthen the pelvic floor (may reduce bathroom use at night)
  • Improve gait, balance, and function
  • Engage in low-impact aerobic exercise (swimming, stationary bike)

What Can You Do to Lessen Fall Risk At Home?

At MOTION, we believe our relationship with our clients is a partnership. We will teach you how to take home what you learn at your physical therapy sessions, so you can continue to strengthen your body, reduce your fall risk, and improve your quality of life. Here are a few ways you can incorporate what you’ve learned at physical therapy into your home life.

  • Regularly practice the PT exercises that your therapist advises you to do at home.
  • Participate in Yoga for Seniors, Silver Sneakers, or other programs recommended by your therapist.
  • Use footwear recommended by your physical therapist.
  • Have your eyes examined at least once a year.
  • Remove loose rugs and items you could trip over from your home.
  • Install grab bars inside and outside your shower and next to the toilet.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the shower.
  • Install handrails on both sides of staircases.
  • Add lights or add brighter bulbs to light fixtures if the lighting in your home is too dim.
  • Add night lights to the bedroom and bathroom.
  • Tell your doctor if you have fallen.
  • Discuss all prescription medications you are taking with your doctor to see if any are making you more susceptible to a fall.

See the CDC Safety at Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults to ensure your home environment is as safe as possible.

Why MOTION PT Group?

It pays to be proactive. You don’t have to be in pain or wait until you experience a fall to benefit from physical therapy. Our physical therapists can help you reduce your risk of falls and injuries, increase your physical health, and improve your quality of life.

Since 2015, MOTION has provided transformative physical and occupational therapy services to clients of all ages. At MOTION, our mission is to improve the lives of every client as we help them get back to what moves them.

Contact us today to schedule an in-clinic or telehealth appointment.