One out of every three persons over the age of 65 falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of serious bone fractures and accidental death in people over the age of 85. For both age groups, many of these falls can be prevented. Some of the risk factors for falling are vision deficits, muscle weakness, taking greater than four medications in the same time period, having a history of falling, diabetes, arthritis, confusion, depression, and fear of falling. There are three main systems that contribute to balance ability; vision, the body’s internal sense of spatial orientation (somatosensation), and special semi-circular canals inside your inner ears (vestibular system). Using appropriate tests and measures, physical therapists can pinpoint environmental, mechanical, behavioral, and situational fall risk factors. Through the use of scientifically based exercise and activity programs, it is most often possible to train and improve each of the body’s balance systems at any age.
Anna Kotula, DPT