Getting and Staying Healthy: A Health and Medical Blog

Attending a Physiotherapy Clinic to Reduce Your Falls Risk

With more than one in three people over the age of 65 experiencing a fall in Australia each year, your falls risk is a worrying issue that could affect your quality of life. Depending on your underlying conditions and where you live, encountering a fall can change your ability to mobilise at home, resulting in a loss of confidence. By attending a physiotherapy clinic, you can reduce the risks that accompany having a fall.

Why do individuals over 65 fall?

One of the most prevalent reasons is orthostatic hypertension, which means your blood pressure drops when you move from sitting to standing. With this drop in blood pressure comes reduced oxygen delivery to the brain, resulting in a brief loss of consciousness. Other common reasons include:

  • Hazards around the home, such as wires and loose rugs
  • Neurological conditions, such as Meniere's disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Musculoskeletal conditions

While physiotherapists primarily work with musculoskeletal complaints, their input can reduce your falls risk and help you enhance your mobility regardless of the cause or your underlying medical condition.

Assessing your gait

Your gait is the way you walk. Ideally, you'll have a regular heel-toe strike, allowing for 'normal' balance. However, conditions such as osteoporosis, nerve impingements, and Parkinson's disease alter this. During your assessment, your physiotherapist will assess your gait and recommend ways to reduce hazards around your home and mobility exercises that keep you safe.

Addressing your medications

Polypharmacy is an area of medicine that involves assessing your drugs and how they increase your risk of falls. For example, taking an antidepressant and certain antihypertensives places you at higher risk of losing balance. While a physiotherapist may not alter your medications themselves, they can help you liaise with other clinicians to find safer alternatives.

Administering appropriate exercises

Many physiotherapy clinics involve the use of assessments such as the Berg test, which scores how likely you are to encounter a fall. Using movements such as how long it takes for you to rise from a chair and 360-degree turn observations, they'll place you into an exercise category. From there, they'll recommend exercises that strengthen your hamstrings, quads, and explosive limb power, providing you with better mobility.

Overall, preventing a fall and providing rehabilitation following one prevents you from entering a vicious cycle. Said cycle involves falling, a loss of confidence resulting in reduced mobility, and then a loss of muscle power that makes falling more likely. With the use of a physiotherapy clinic, you can boost your quality of life and enhance your sense of vitality.