I often give talks on fall prevention and reducing dizziness symptoms.  I was contacted prior to my last class by a woman who planned to attend and wanted additional information before the class. As I walked into the class I recognized her name had been crossed off the attendance sheet, so I asked the course director what had happened.  Unfortunately benefits of my class were 36 hours too late since she was injured when she fell a couple of days before. This isn’t an uncommon situation:

Balance issues account for over $1 BILLION in medical spending in the U.S. alone.

2.5 million senior citizens will end up in the ER from a fall with an average cost near $5,000 each, and 700,000 of those seniors will end up hospitalized at an average cost near $20,000.

250,000 seniors will break their hip each year, 95% of those are the result of a fall.

These statistics and facts are staggering and sad, especially because in many cases falls are preventable. Balance is one of the most complicated processes our brain accomplishes.  Many of our senses and portions of our brain are involved in balance. If one piece goes awry, the rest need to be able to step up to take over, or the whole system collapses.

We have three primary balance systems: vision, proprioception (awareness of where your body is in space), and vestibular (inner ear balance organ).  These systems feed into the brain where processing occurs through multiple portions of the cerebellum and cerebrum, there generating a plan and sending it out to the muscles to execute that plan.

If one of the three balance systems aren’t working perfectly….the system falls apart.

If the brain doesn’t interpret information correctly….the system falls apart.
If the plan doesn’t make it to the muscles fast enough…. the system falls apart.
If the body isn’t strong enough to carry out the plan…. the system falls apart.

Some of our senses can be affected by illness or injury, but in some cases they just become less sensitive with time and age.

To properly prevent falls you need an expert who understands how all pieces of the balance system work together, so they can develop a plan to address your individual needs.  At Freedom Physical Therapy Services we have balance experts trained to do just that, evaluate and create an individualized program for you.  We offer FREE BALANCE SCREENS at all locations.  Don’t wait until it’s too late; call your local Freedom location to sign up!

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Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
PT, DPT, CMTPT
Colin O'Brien is a doctor of physical therapy working at Freedom Physical Therapy Services in WI. He specializes in orthopedic care, dry needling, sports medicine and vestibular and balance.