Our balance is comprised of 3 systems working together: our eyes, ears, and body which all send information to the brain which is then interpreted about where we are in space. When 1 or more of these systems is working incorrectly we are at a risk for falls.
As we age, the occurrence of slips and falls becomes more common. According to the CDC, an elderly adult is treated in the ER for a fall every 11 seconds, and an elderly adult dies every 19 minutes from a fall. Aging is inevitable and with that comes deteriorating muscle strength, weakened immune systems, and imbalance issues. For these reasons, a slip or fall suffered by the elderly can prove to have devastating consequences.
In addition to the harm caused by a physical fall, it's important to account for the harmful effects a fall can have on the psyche. The idea of falling becomes a constant fear and can result in increased self-restriction, resulting in seniors becoming more dependent on others and subsequently decreasing mobility over time. As such, fall prevention is an essential aspect for senior care. Addressing balance problems reduces the risk of falls through all populations.
• Unable to stand on 1 leg for 5 seconds
• Difficulty getting up from a chair
• Unable to sit slowly into a chair
• Turns are extremely slow or unsteady
• Walking is unsteady
• Short, shuffling steps
• Does not have upright posture
Because seniors are so exposed to slips and falls, it's important to understand the risk factors that cause them. Risk factors can include:
• Medication Use
• A Previous Fall
• Vestibular Impairment
• Visual Impairment
• Decreased Sensation
• Increased Age
If an elderly relative or friend suffers from any of the mentioned risk factors, have them evaluated by their medical team to better understand the severity of symptoms.
Implementing preventive measures is the best way to reduce the risk of a slip or fall and this can start with something as easy as making your home more senior friendly. This includes:
• Home safety changes - rearrange furniture, remove hazards like throw rugs
• Install grab bars or rails in bathrooms and stairs
• Balance & Strength Retraining
• Vestibular Rehabilitation
• Stretching Routines
Our at-home Balance Recovery Kit was designed by a physical therapist to encompass all aspects of fall recovery including work on the visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems that contribute to your overall balance.
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Identifying balance issues can be done within the senior’s home environment. The best way to do so is by watching them move around their space. Timing the speed of movement is a key identifier for fall risk. Have the senior stand up from a chair for 30 seconds while counting the time they can stand up. If it is less than 10 times they may have balance issues. While it may seem like a simple test we would be looking at the coordination, reaction time, and motor control and a problem in these areas can cause balance issues.
That depends. These exercises were created to be an easily done Balance exercises for seniors should target the visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems. By only focusing on 1 system seniors will not achieve ideal balance. Exercises to work on vision include eye exercises, exercises to work on the vestibular system include head movements, and exercises to work on the somatosensory system include balance training. A combination approach is most effective.
The first thing to do to prevent falls at home is to modify the environment. If you need grab bars in certain areas get those installed, add lighting to dim areas, and get rid of throw rugs or other tripping hazards. The next important step is to start balance exercises so that your body is better equipped to walk on various surfaces, up and down stairs, and turn around quickly. Balance is a combination of vision, vestibular, and somatosensation so addressing all of these in your workout is best.
VIZSTIM was created to improve vestibular dysfunction with at home exercises. This can be started with a healthcare provider or within the comfort of your home.
Yes. Any healthcare professional can purchase and use VIZSTIM in their practice to better treat vestibular dysfunction. They can then give you individualized changes to use your kit at home.
That depends. These exercises were created to be an easily done at home but if it makes you feel more comfortable then you may work with your physical therapist to get started and have them customize your homework of using the kit.