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Physical Therapist Intervention for Balance Impairments May Help Reduce Risk of Falling
Date:1/14/2008

steady you if necessary, perform this test:

1. Stand straight, wearing flat, closed shoes, with your arms folded across your chest. Raise one leg, bending the knee about 45 degrees, start a stopwatch, and close your eyes.

2. Remain on one leg, stopping the watch immediately if you uncross your arms, tilt sideways more than 45 degrees, move the leg you are standing on, or touch the raised leg to the floor.

3. Repeat this test with the other leg.

4. Compare your performance to the norms for various ages: 20 to 49 years old (24 to 28 seconds); 50 to 59 years (21 seconds); 60 to 69 years (10 seconds); 70 to 79 years (4 seconds); 80 and older (most cannot do this test).

To improve balance and reduce falls risk, physical therapists may recommend stability and strengthening exercises; a formal exercise program; a walking regimen that includes balance components such as changes in surfaces/terrains, distance, and elevations; Tai Chi (which emphasizes balance, weight shifting, coordination, and postural training); and aquatics classes geared toward balance and coordination.

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

The American Physical Therapy Association (http://www.apta.org) is a national organization representing almost 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. It
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SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association
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