Fall Prevention and Gait Training

Fall Statistics

  • Falls result in more than 2.4 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually and more than 21,700 of those people die.
  • Every 14 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.
  • Every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall-related injury.
  • Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

The reasons for falls are complex and include:

  • Leg muscle weakness
  • Difficulty with balance or walking
  • Vision Problems (cataracts, macular degeneration, wearing bifocals)
  • Medical conditions that limit your ability to get around, such as Parkinson disease, stroke, or diabetes, stroke, or diabetes
  • Conditions that cause confusion, such as dementia and Alzheimer disease
  • Depression
  • Taking more than 4 medications at the same time or psychoactive medications (such as sedatives or antidepressants)
  • Using a cane or other walking device
  • Home hazards (throw rugs, pets underfoot)
  • Low blood pressure (Hypertension)

At ActiveCare Physical Therapy our Physical therapists work to prevent injuries by identifying individuals who are at risk for falls. A comprehensive physical therapy fall evaluation is performed that includes: a thorough history, muscle strength evaluation, balance assessment, functional mobility assessment and gait training. Once the impairments are identified, our physical therapy team works with the patient to develop a treatment plan that will help to minimize or prevent future falls. The treatments consist of balance training, endurance/strength training, and education on how falls can be prevented. Ultimately, we can transition your program into the home environment or you can continue to improve by joining our senior fitness program for long-term benefits.

What is Gait Training?

Gait training is a type of physical therapy that helps people improve their ability to stand and walk. One goal of gait training is preventing falls. Gait training may be recommended after an illness or injury, to help a patient regain independence in walking, even if an adaptive device is needed. Gait training helps strengthen muscles and joints, improves balance, improves posture, develops muscle memory, builds endurance, and retrains the legs for repetitive motion.

The secondary benefit of gait training is a reduction of other illness, such as heart disease and osteoporosis, through physical activity and movement. People who choose gait training may become healthier overall than people who choose immobility.

How does Gait Training Work?

Gait training is usually started as soon as possible after an injury or a health complication. However, it can also be done preventatively. There are several gait therapy techniques, but a few common trainings. Many people undergoing gait training will walk on a treadmill and do strength training. Other task-specific trainings include stepping over objects, lifting the leg, sitting, and standing. People with specific mobility-affecting issues will get special therapies or exercises.