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Fall Prevention and Balance & Mobility Issues

What can I expect from a fall and balance assessment?

A fall and balance assessment might be appropriate if you have experienced a recent fall or have felt increasingly unsteady on your feet. During the assessment, our physical therapists look at several different factors that might contribute to falls or unsteadiness including: strength and sensation of your lower body, your posture, your proprioceptive system (your body’s internal feedback system), your reaction abilities when your balance is challenged and a brief assessment of your vision. We will perform standardized gait and balance tests and will also discuss strategies to make your home a safer place.

What kind of exercises will I do during therapy to improve my balance abilities?

We design an exercise program for each individual based on what the fall and balance assessment reveals. In general, exercises often involve stretching and strengthening of your legs, balance exercises in different positions and with different environments, postural education and practice walking over various surfaces.

Will my doctor be involved in my care?

Documentation of our findings will be sent to your doctor. We communicate with your physician at the beginning and end of therapy, and during therapy if needed.

How long will my therapy last?

Each person has different needs. In general, patients are seen two times per week for approximately 45 minutes. Changes in balance ability typically take one to two months of therapy to notice. Upon discharge from therapy, you will be provided with a home exercise program designed specifically for you. We strongly encourage you to keep up with your home program to maintain what you gained during therapy.

Balance problems make it difficult for people to maintain stable and upright positions when standing, walking, and even sitting. Older people are at a higher risk of having balance problems. Balance problems occur when 1 or more of 4 systems in the body are not working properly:

  • Vision
  • Inner ear
  • Muscular system
  • Awareness of one’s own body position (called “proprioception”)

A range of factors can cause balance problems, including:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Inner ear problems
  • Simple aging
  • Certain medications (such as those prescribed for depression and high blood pressure)
  • Lack of activity or a sedentary lifestyle

Balance problems can also be caused by medical conditions, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Brain injury
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cognitive diseases
  • Diabetes


Your physical therapist can help treat your balance problems by identifying their causes, and designing an individual treatment program to address your specific needs, including exercises you can do at home. Your physical therapist can help you:

  • Reduce fall risk
  • Reduce fear of falling
  • Improve mobility
  • Improve balance
  • Improve strength
  • Improve movement
  • Improve flexibility and posture
  • Increase activity levels