One of benefits of having physical therapy with an in-home physical therapist is that we can see how the patient operates in their own environment and how they function with their activities of daily living. With that knowledge, we can specifically tailor our physical therapy program to meet their needs in the home.
We work not only with the typical orthopedic and neurologic conditions, but because we are geriatric specialists, we work with patients who have balance problems, those who are at risk of falls, and those patients who need some help to maintain their independence at home.
As physical therapists working in the home, one of our biggest areas of treatment revolves around balance and fall prevention. Falls are the number one reason for injury and emergency room admittance amongst seniors. In fact, of all seniors over the age of 65, one in three will have a fall this year. Over the age of 80, the likelihood of a fall increases to 50%. Moreover, those who do fall once have 75% chance of falling again within six months. As you can see, balance and fall prevention is of paramount importance to us as physical therapists for the geriatric population.
There are many reasons why falls occur, but typically they mainly boil down to changes the body undergoes as one ages. Medical conditions like stroke, neuropathy, arthritis, visual problems, and others contribute to the risk of falling. Muscle atrophy and weakness play a major part in falls and loss of balance. If fact, by the age of 70, without any exercise, one can lose 50-70% of his or her strength from when they were 30. All these changes plus others can lead to a poor walking pattern and loss of balance, which puts one at an immediate high risk of falling.
Safety is our top priority for our patients, with an emphasis on preventing the onset or re-occurence of falls. We provide as part of our evaluations, a home safety evaluation to make sure the home environment is fall-proof. We will also look in detail at one's strength and balance deficits, and take into consideration one's medical history and current limitations in crafting our physica therapy treatment recommendations.
The good news is that we have helped many, many seniors improve their balance, strength, and walking abilities, so they have the confidence to get up and go and not feel limited or afraid of falling. Lots of research has indicated improvements with balance and strength, even well into the 90's, when undergoing an active exercise program. We are experts in this area and with our individualized approach and one-on-one care, our patients receive very high quality and effective therapy.