An Introduction To Balance Therapy For Seniors

Posted on: 10 August 2015

Balance issues are common in seniors, especially if you have recently been ill, had an injury, or had a lengthy hospital stay. Fortunately, physical therapy can help you recover your balance so it is easier and safer for you to move around your own home. This guide can help you understand this form of rehabilitation therapy.

Treatment Options

There are three main physical therapy treatment options that are made available, but only a couple of them are suitable for senior balance issues. These options include the following:

  • In-patient rehab centers.

  • Out-patient therapy.

  • Home therapy.

Out-patient therapy is the preferred choice for many seniors, since you won't need to travel and you can recuperate in your own home. This allows you to save your energy for the the actual therapy session. The therapists will come to your home and teach you the proper balance exercises. Since the therapists can see your home set-up, they will also be able to help you with difficulties you may have in your abode, such as maneuvering through certain doorways. Rehab centers are also common for seniors recovering from a long hospital stay, especially if the home environment isn't safe due to stairs or other obstacles. Out-patient therapy is rarely necessary for senior balance issues, since it is primarily for those that need to perform therapy on special, non-transportable equipment.

Therapy Types

Your visits with your therapist will likely include a combination of manual therapy and movement therapy. The therapists may massage soft tissues or manually rotate joints if they have stiffened up and affected your balance. The therapist will also assign movement exercises. These will help you regain some of your balance, while also teaching you strategies to prevent falls when you do lose your balance. They will go through the exercises with you several times, and then prescribe an exercise plan for you to complete daily.

Therapy Examples

These examples will help you know what to expect. Although your therapist may choose different exercises, they are generally simple and low-impact, like the following:

  • Single leg stand. This helps you find your center of balance. Simply hold onto the back of a chair and stand on one leg for a few seconds. Then, switch to the other leg.

  • Wide stance exercise. For this one, you still hold the back of the chair but you place your feet shoulder width apart. You then lean to the side, stretching out one leg and bending the knee on the side you are leaning toward. Repeat on the other side.

  • Heel-Toe walk. A line is marked on the floor and you simply walk it, placing heel to toe as you do so.

These are only examples of what your therapist may prescribe for your rehabilitation services. To learn more and get advice specific to your situation, contact a local rehabilitation center.