Physiotherapists are well placed to assess your balance by performing a thorough balance assessment. The aim of performing a balance assessment is to identify any risk factors or the likelihood of falls.
Your physiotherapist will commence by asking you questions to gauge your fall history.
This can include but isn’t limited to:
Have you ever fallen over?
Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?
How many falls have you experienced the past 12 months?
If you have experienced a fall, what happened?
Are you currently taking any medication? Have you had any recent medicine changes? Some medications can have an adverse effect on balance. Your physiotherapist will work closely with your doctor and chemist to ensure that your medications are not increasing the likelihood of falling.
Throughout your assessment, your physiotherapist will also want to know about your home set up and current exercise history. This is useful to identify any risk factors around the home that may contribute to falling. This can commonly include any uneven areas around the home such as where carpet leads to tiles or floor boards. Current exercise regime and fitness levels are also important to identify and improve. Given the musculoskeletal system is a crucial component to balance. In particular, weakness or lack of endurance in the lower limb are often a factor in increasing the likelihood of falling.
Following a subjective assessment, your physiotherapist will perform a range of static and dynamic balance tests. Importantly, these tests are designed to push you safely outside your comfort zones. For example, your physiotherapist may test your balance by asking you to close your eyes or balance on an uneven surface to assess your static balance. Dynamic balance can be assessed by getting you to perform a number of reaching tasks or movements that get you to move your centre of gravity outside your balance of support.
Your assessment findings will allow your physiotherapist to identify any risk factors for falling and provide a specific and individualised program to safely practice and improve your balance. Your baseline measures on balance tests can be recorded and compared as you gradually improve.
Learn more about falls and balance in Episode 1 of The Better Ageing Podcast:
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