- When should I consider using a cane or walker?
In our opinion, most balance issues can be improved with a personalized program that incorporates exercises for the body and brain so that an assistive device is not necessary. However, there are times when it is warranted as a safety tool- like after a surgery or a fall. The goal of our therapists is always to help patients walk independently without a device and this can be accomplished as their balance and safety improves.
- Are falls a normal part of aging?
Absolutely not. While it is normal for muscle mass and strength to decrease over time , falling is never normal. Even a “close call” where you didn’t fall all the way to the ground but you caught yourself on the counter or bed is considered a fall and should be taken seriously. If you’re having falls, it’s time to get checked out by a physical therapist who is familiar with balance science and retraining.
- I feel like the room is spinning. What’s going on?
Room-spinning typically indicates you have something called “vertigo”. This is an issue with your balance system, specifically in the inner ear, and should be treated immediately with a series of exercises performed by a Vestibular Specialist. Typically, these repositioning maneuvers help improve the spinning immediately. Call our office to ask about coming in for this specific vertigo treatment.
- How can I make my home safer and “fall proof”?
Here’s how to “fall proof” the 5 key areas of your home:
- Living Areas – Simple changes to your main living areas can dramatically reduce your risk for a fall in your home. Take a look at the layout of your furniture. Does it give you easy walkways, or do you find yourself walking around pieces to get where you are going? Do you have items that you can trip over or are in your way? Be careful with throw rugs, they can cause tripping if you catch your toe on them. Power cords should be tacked against the baseboard and avoid having them run along the floor in your walking path.
- Stairs and Steps – Avoid leaving objects on the stairs at all costs! Make sure your stairs are well lit with light switches at the top and bottom. If you don’t have switches at both ends, an electrician can easily install them. Simple home maintenance is important as well. When was the last time the screws were tightened on your railing? Would it better serve you to add a second railing on the opposite side of the staircase?
- Kitchen – High cabinets can create problems. Reaching high overhead challenges your balance and forces you to stand on chairs that aren’t sturdy. Moving high items to lower shelves immediately reduces your fall risk. If you are unable to do so, having a sturdy step stool is a better option to reach those high places.
- Bedroom – Place a lamp within reach while lying in bed so you can turn it on before you get out of bed. If the path from your bed to the bathroom is dark, have a night light that lights up when it’s dim in the house. Avoid using a motion sensitive light because it requires you to already be up and walking before it activates, giving you an opportunity to lose your balance in the dark.
- Bathroom – Water and slick surfaces can be a disastrous combination. Non-slip strips in your bath and shower will give you extra stability without adding the bulk of a shower mat. They are cheap and can be purchased at any hardware store. A shower chair and shower wand will reduce the length of time standing in the shower. Lastly, installing grab bars is one of the most effective ways to ensure safety when getting into and out of the bath or shower. Many carpenters can install them quickly by your tub or toilet.
Remember, if you’re experiencing balance issues and you’d like more information on how you can have your balance tested and a specialized program established for you…
Please Call 512-730-0231 Or click here if you would like to schedule a FREE Discovery Session and get your balance tested!