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Gait and Balance Deficiencies

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Gait (walking) and balance problems typically go hand in hand. There are some things everyone should know about difficulties when walking…

  • 8-19% of community dwelling older adults are affected by gait disorders and require ambulatory devices to walk.
  • Ambulatory Devices, including canes, can help improve balance, decrease risk of falls, decrease pain caused by weight bearing, improve mobility throughout the community, and improve energy expenditure, if used properly.
  • 1 in 3 adults over 65 falls each year.
  • In 2010 the direct medical cost of falls was $30 billion!!

Gait training can improve step length and improve one’s ability to shift weight while walking, thereby decreasing fall risk. Patients will be instructed in proper and safe transfers including standing from a sitting position, wheelchair transfers (if applicable), and getting in and out of the car. Postural training and strengthening are important aspects of a patient’s treatment program. The slouching posture can change the patient’s center of gravity, increase muscular pain, and reduce ability to participate independently in activities of daily living, hobbies, and household duties.

Balance Training
Patients with balance disorders often report a variety of symptoms such as dizziness, imbalance, walking difficulties, and falls. This may occur from damage to the vestibular apparatus, the central nervous system, or from postural and strength deficits. Therefore, it is important that the origin of the disorder is properly diagnosed or “differentiated” in order to render effective therapy.

Once the origin of the balance disorder has been determined through diagnostic testing, the patient is given a clinical evaluation. The goals of the evaluation are to assess physical performance with encountered environments, establish baseline measures, fall risk, and to determine the most appropriate type and level balance exercises.

Balance Therapy consists of:

  1. Strengthening
  2. Safety Awareness
  3. Postural and Balance Exercises
  4. Gait Exercises
  5. Vestibular Stimulation
  6. Proprioception Tasks
  7. Sensory Integration
  8. Patient Education

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