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Avoid Falls in the Fall and All Year Round

Falls can lead to various injuries including fractures and hospitalization. They can occur for many  reasons including slipping on wet leaves, feeling dizzy, Parkinson’s disease, poor vision, and weak muscles. Sometimes, a fall can be prevented by modifying the environment, such as by removing throw rugs from hard wood floors and turning on the lights. Balance training can also help to prevent a fall. Balance is defined as an even distribution of weight enabling someone to remain upright and steady. Maintaining balance requires the integration of inputs from the vestibular system, vision, and the perception of pressure and proprioception from the somatosensory system with the motor (muscles) system responsible for muscle actions.

The vestibular system provides the central nervous system with feedback regarding the position and movement of the head with relation to gravity. Conditions such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) can interfere with the function of this system and negatively impact balance.

The visual system not only lets us see our world but tells us where we are relative to objects in our environment and gives us a reference to the verticality of body and head motion. This system declines as we age and diseases such as glaucoma also impact this component of balance.

The somatosensory system collects information via nerve endings and receptors located in our skin, muscles, ligaments and joints, which receive proprioceptive information about our body position in space and where our body parts are relative to each other. Injuries such as ankle sprains and weak or fatigued muscles can negatively affect this component of balance.

A sudden loss of balance is less likely to result in a fall if you use good balance strategies, have optimal strength, and work on your overall balance in a safe, controlled environment. If you are fearful of falling, noticed a decline in your balance over the years,  or had a recent fall with or without a resulting injury, physical therapy can help to optimize your balance and reduce your chances of a future fall by facilitating the above systems of balance.

Listen to your body’s wisdom and contact Cresswell Physical Therapy for tips on staying active while recuperating from injury.  We can be reached for appointments by calling (530) 244-7686.