As we get older, it is not uncommon for us to develop problems with the
way we walk and our balance. In fact, the increasing incidence of falls
in elderly population groups is primarily due to impairment in gait and
balance. While there are a number of causes for this, it appears that
the treatment options generally revolve around physical therapy. In this
article, we shall briefly discuss the role of physical therapists in treatment
of gait and balance impairments.
Causes of gait and balance impairments
The common causes include arthritis and a change in the blood pressure
with posture in patients. Other causes can include a stroke especially
one that affects the balance mechanism within the brain. Inner ear problems
and similar clinical conditions can all cause balance issues and difficulty
walking. Other causes can include an underactive thyroid, heart disease,
medical therapy and vitamin deficiencies along with Parkinson’s disease.
While the treatments for each of these conditions can be variable, the
common denominator is often physical therapy.
The role of the physical therapist
physical therapists of ProFysio Physical Therapy in Aberdeen have made the diagnosis of gait
and balance impairment and the underlying cause has been identified, they
will conduct a detailed assessment of patients to ascertain the gait requirements
and balance abnormalities. Many a time, along with the physical therapists,
other allied healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists
and nurses will also be involved in the care of the patient.
Exercise is the best mode of management of patients with balance and gait
abnormalities. The primary goal of ProFysio Physical Therapy is to help
patients maintain their energy levels, decrease the number of falls and
enhance the independence of the patient in performing their activities
of daily living.
Gait training involves a stepwise approach where patients are encouraged
to walk with the help of support initially which is gradually withdrawn
over period of time. Gait training helps patients walk a lot more safely
and decreases the risk of falling remarkably. Muscle strengthening exercises
form part and parcel of gait training and primarily concentrate upon the
back muscles and the quadriceps and hamstrings. Of course, other muscle
groups may also be involved and which the therapists of ProFysio Physical
Therapy will look into. The purpose of gait training is to promote striking
of the heel onto the floor when walking. Patients are discouraged from
using any nearby support during gait training.
While performing gait training, patients may require additional treatments
such as correction of the vision and hearing aids. These are of prime
importance in ensuring that patients can see where they are going and
can promote quick recovery during gait training.
As the body adapts to these exercises over a period of time, the risk for
falls reduces. The therapists of ProFysio Physical Therapy in Aberdeen,
NJ will also provide you with a simple exercise program that you can do
at home, without the need for any equipment or devices.
Certain exercises such as Tai Chi are useful home therapies that physical
therapists of ProFysio Physical Therapy in Aberdeen, NJ may advise to patients.
Physical therapy plays an important role in the management of patients who have balance
and gait abnormalities. Treatments often involve a multidisciplinary approach
and may require a fair bit of time before any significant improvement is seen.