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Breaking the Falls

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Falls can be a life-changing event, but you can take action before it happens.
There are a number of factors that influence our balance including vision,
sense of touch, and the inner ear. If any of these systems are not working
properly, balance can suffer.

Our eyes allow us to see obstacles as well as send information to our brain
about distance and speed of movement. If our vision is obstructed from poor
lighting, age-related changes, or medical conditions it can alter balance.

The somatosensory system refers to our body's sense of touch as well as the
body's ability to sense its position in space (proprioception). Injuries and
age-related changes can limit this ability to sense where our joints are and
how our muscles respond to unexpected challenges to our balance.

The vestibular system, also known as the inner ear, is responsible for
regulating head position and movement. If this system is not working
properly, individuals may experience vertigo, instability, and nausea
(also known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo - BPPV).

As we age, our balance can be affected, but there are things we can do to
improve how these systems work. In order for our bodies to maintain the
ability to balance as we age, we must practice. The body adapts to change
if we challenge it appropriately. To improve balance we must work on core
stability to promote strength and improve posture, increase flexibility for full
movement of joints, and perform exercises to encourage proper balance

A physical therapy program can play an integral role in the prevention of falls.
Physical therapists are experts in movement dysfunction and can create
exercise programs to improve strength and stability. Physical therapists can
also address inner ear problems through a number of different techniques.