As you age, your balance can be affected by muscle weakness, poor circulation, and a host of other problems. Your balance will have an impact on how you walk. Your walk, or gait, will change as you get older. When your balance is off, it is much more difficult to make your feet and legs work the way they should. You begin to stumble more and the chances of falling increase tremendously. In the elderly, falls are one of the main causes of injury-related deaths in America.
Learning how to walk effectively can help to prevent falls and excessive stumbling. Gait training exercises can also help to improve your balance as you walk. A physical therapist can use specific exercises to help you overcome many of the challenges you may face as your gait begins to change.
THE BENEFITS OF BALANCE AND GAIT TRAINING
Balance and gait training go hand in hand because of how they affect one another. A poor gait can cause you to trip or throw you off balance. When you begin to have trouble keeping one foot in front of another, it may not be fatigue or a case of running out of steam. It may be your body fighting to maintain its balance. It can also be reflexes that have deteriorated with age. Your posture will also play a role. It can not only shift you off balance, but it can also make it more difficult to move efficiently.
The eyes, inner ear, and the entire musculoskeletal system are involved in the process of walking. Cognitive functions are also extremely important. When physical therapy is used to correct abnormalities in a person’s gait, all of these systems and elements are taken into consideration. During gait training, the physical therapist will work to bring each of these factors into balance, creating harmony within the movements that helps to eliminate stumbling.
Gait training is beneficial in reducing the risk of slip and fall injuries. Exercises are used that reduce dizziness and instability, providing you with the confidence you need to be able to walk more effectively. Proper training can also help to improve your posture and realign the body naturally so that walking is less of a struggle and the risk of injury is greatly reduced.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING BALANCE AND GAIT TRAINING?
During your initial evaluation, your physical therapist will determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. They will also look closely at your posture to determine what needs to be done to correct any abnormalities that may be throwing you off balance. Both strength and flexibility are determining factors when it comes to maintaining proper balance.
Weakness in the hips, knees, and ankles is often a main cause of falls. These weaknesses have a direct impact on a person’s balance. Once your physical therapist has taken all of this information into account, they will be able to develop a therapy plan that is effective at correcting any issues you may be having and help to restore your natural gait.
BRINGING YOUR LIFE BACK INTO BALANCE
Working with a physical therapist is the best way to correct any weaknesses in balance, posture or gait. With appropriate forms of exercise and therapy, you will be back in balance and able to move from place to place with much less risk of tripping or stumbling. Visit with one of our physical therapists to find out if gait training will help you get back on track.
WHAT DOES BALANCE AND GAIT TRAINING ENTAIL?
First, we’ll evaluate your gait to determine potential problems with strength and posture. Simple movements to test balance are also part of the assessment. Together, these basic evaluations point us in the direction of what to focus on in terms of therapy.
Hip and ankle weakness often leads to balance problems, as does poor posture. Strength and flexibility movements can help counteract these problems. These are often as simple as leg lifts while seated in a chair, or “knee marching.” We may also practice standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, or tracking the movement of your thumb with your eyes as you move it in various positions.
READY TO “BALANCE” YOUR LIFE AGAIN?
With our dedicated team behind you, you’ll regain confidence in navigating challenging terrain and learning how to avoid dizzy spells. You may even be able to leave that cane or walker behind! Contact us at Sheepshead Bay, NY & Brooklyn, NY centers for a consultation so you can regain your independence as soon as possible.
Learn more about the services that we offer at OceanView Rehabilitation
3175 Emmons Ave
Brooklyn, NY, 11235
Monday | 8am - 7pm
Tuesday | 9am - 8pm
Wednesday | 8am - 7pm
Thursday | 9am - 7pm
Friday | 8am - 5pm
Phone: (718) 891-0680
Fax: (718) 891-0681