Falls prevention therapy is a multifaceted approach using interventions to reduce the risk of falling with physical activity. The exercise programs which are successful include a sufficient intensity to build muscle strength. Activities may include, strengthening, flexibility activities and dynamic balance training such as Tai Chi techniques. Treatment can be performed in groups or individually.
Cumulative effect of multiple interacting factors increases a fall risk in any one individual. Some of these risk factors include:
- History of Falls
- Gait disorder, use of a assistive device
- Balance disorder
- Muscle Weakness
- Visual deficits
- Neurologic deficits
- Impaired Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
- Cognitive impairment
- Age > 80 years old
- Greater than 4 medications
- Cardiovascular deficits
A fall prevention program will focus on the multiple factors that can lead to increased fall risk. Patients will be evaluated to determine what specific risk factors and deficits are present and an individual program will be developed. Treatment strategies may include: core strengthening, balance retraining and functional activity training.
Falls prevention is a long term intervention which requires interaction with a Physical therapist individually or in a group setting. Activities are then progressed to an independent routine to maintain gains achieved in the structured setting. Treatment time frames vary based on number of risk factors for falls and specific medical conditions.
The goals of treatment would be:
- To provide information on creating a safe environment
- Decrease, eliminate or manage fall risk factors and
- Build strength and endurance with an exercise program
- Implement lifestyle changes that address ongoing risk factors including
- Medication review
- Regular hearing and vision testing
- Incorporate regular physical activity