What Is Balance & Gait Disorders?
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and serious health problems in the United States. Bad falls are a constant worry for seniors and others who have physical challenges. As we age, with declining activity or after an injury, walking and balancing can become difficult. Many people do not realize how badly compromised their balance is or their limitations with walking is, until they have a fall. Walking not only requires good balance, but the ability to know where your joints are in space (proprioception), and the ability to know how your joints are moving (kinesthesia), as well as good range of motion and strength.
How Physical Therapy Can Help?
Your physical therapist will first perform a thorough evaluation. After discussing your areas of concern, they may perform functional tests that allow them to see your foot placement, walking pace and step style. Since physical therapists are experts at movement, they can spot potential problems with your strength and posture that may be contributing to your balance and gait problems. Once your evaluation is completed, they will develop a personalized treatment plan that may include targeted exercises to strengthen weakened muscles, stretches to improve flexibility, changes to your footwear, and recommendations for any accommodations that will improve your overall balance. Your therapist will also periodically evaluate your progress and make adjustments to your goals and treatments.
Are you struggling with a loss of balance? Do you have a gait disorder that is keeping you unsteady on your feet? For more information, please feel free to call or contact us today. Our team is made up of enthusiastic, hands-on providers who offer a comprehensive range of services. We look forward to giving you the care you deserve.
What Is Gait Training & Balance Therapy?
Whether you have recently had surgery, have developed vertigo as the result of an illness, or have noticed your balance seems “off” lately, the loss of balance is as much a neurological concern as it is a physical one. Not only do you need a pair of healthy feet and quality shoes to keep your balance, your ability to stay upright is connected to much of your nervous system. Each of the following body parts play a role in your ability to stay balanced:
- Inner ears (Vestibular therapy)
- Nervous system
- Cognitive functions
Your gait and your ability to maintain your balance while you are moving are deeply intertwined. If your muscles have atrophied (become weaker) after an injury, or if you favor one foot because of chronic pain, you may find that both your gait and your balance are affected. Hip and ankle weakness often also can lead to balance problems, as does poor posture. Strength and flexibility movements can help counteract these problems.
Gait and balance training has a range of benefits, with avoiding injuries being at the top of the list. Gait training can help strengthen weakened muscles, improve joint flexibility, relieve pain, and improve reflexes that make walking or running easier. It can also help you feel more confident in your footing as you age. In addition, those aches and pains from poor posture are likely to decrease as well.