Physical therapy for gait and balance impairment

Physical therapy for gait and balance impairment

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

Once the 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.

Elderly couple stretchingGait 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a stepwise approach where patients are encouraged to walk with the help of support initially which is gradually withdrawn over period of time.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.

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