Anyone of any age can experience a fall, although the likelihood is increased in older people. There are, however, several ways to reduce the chances of falls occurring in the elderly.
Older people are at a greater risk of falling, with several factors being associated:
- Loss of muscle mass.
Motor and balance difficulties.
- Vision or cognitive problems.
- Use of medication that may affect balance (sedatives, antidepressants).
- Home hazards (rugs, steps, handrails, etc.) or inappropriate footwear.
- Lack of physical exercise.
- Various illnesses.
Physical therapists play an extremely important role in preventing falls in the elderly, both by providing a basis for preventing certain injuries that may limit the elderly person’s ability and by helping to manage the risk of falls.
First and foremost, a physical therapist begins by assessing the elderly person’s medical history so that he or she can determine their overall physical condition. Drawing up a personalized exercise plan and working on the “fear of falling” is the second step, always with the main goal of “improving overall physical condition”.
The work plan then goes through:
Muscle strengthening – Exercised and active muscles, especially those of the lower limbs and some of the trunk, help both improve motor coordination and responsiveness, even when a loss of balance occurs.
Balance and reaction time – Reaction time and balance are inversely proportional, so a physical therapist is able to identify which balance reactions need to be worked on, thus improving reaction time.
Flexibility – It is crucial to work on flexibility because even with good reaction time, strength and balance, a lack of flexibility increases the likelihood of falling.
Endurance – A physiotherapist can easily identify possible risk factors, drawing up a personalized exercise plan based on the individual fitness of the elderly person, progressing this plan according to the evolution of the elderly person.
“Pain maintenance” – Physical therapy offers resources and means to reduce or even eliminate certain pains. “Pain relief” ultimately plays a crucial role in decreasing the elderly’s risk of falling.
Daily Routine – Training daily activities such as sitting, standing, squatting, etc., helps reduce the risk of falling, so working on them during physical therapy sessions becomes important.
“IN SHORT, ACTIVE SENIORS FALL LESS.” BALANCE, STRENGTH, FLEXIBILITY AND ENDURANCE TRAINING HELP A LOT WHEN IT COMES TO FALL PREVENTION, SO PHYSICAL THERAPY MAY PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN ALL OF THESE!
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