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Balance, Fall Risk, and Mortality. What You Need to Know!

A recent article in the British Journal of Medicine reflects similar themes and findings located in physical therapy research and peer reviewed literature. Balance and fall risk are a large part of the physical therapy industry and it is monitored and treated by many physical therapists. Much of our research focuses on fall risk, hip fractures and mortality. Preventing fall risk is directly correlated with reducing mortality among older adults.

Balance is a very important factor in predicting mortality, especially as we age. Balance can also be somewhat predictive of other health morbidities and conditions. Balance assessment can be done quickly, inexpensively and should be included in regular healthcare screenings. Identifying poor balance and intervening may help reduce mortality rates. In addition, having good balance can prevent falls, which can prevent other injuries such as fractures or head injuries. As we age, preventing falls and these injuries will help ensure a longer life expectancy.

Assessing your own balance can also be achieved by a simple single leg balance test. Simply stand on one leg near a countertop or shelf for balance support if needed. Try to stand on one leg for 10-30 seconds without swaying, touching your foot or holding with your hands. The longer you can balance, the lower your fall risk.

If you find your balance is poor, you can improve it. Simply standing on one leg with hand support can help to improve balance and strength of the legs. Overtime, you can try to take one hand away and then the other as the balance improves. Practicing balance in a pool is another safe way to work on improving balance and decreasing fall risk. If you have more concerns, reach out to your local physical therapist for balance assessment.

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