If there are symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness or a new onset of imbalance then an assessment needs to be carried out with your doctor. Once red flags are ruled out, and symptoms are medically managed, the best medicine for improving balance, functional confidence, and therefore decreasing falls / falls risk, is fun, challenging and progressive exercise. That’s right ….. Exercise as Medicine!!
In fact, a large and quite famous study, carried out in New Zealand, demonstrated that participation in an exercise programme reduced falls by 30% to 66% when compared to those who were not doing the exercise programme. The balance exercise programme is best delivered with the support of a trained exercise therapist, such as the Chartered Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists at Personal Health. The programme would include a programme of sessions in the clinic, plus a home exercise plan and a complimentary walking plan. The exercises and walking routine would be designed and pitched to the individuals needs.
A good balance exercise plan should include joint mobility exercises, head movement, balance tasks on various services or in various positions, plus strength and fitness work. The goal would be to have the person progressing and having fun, plus confident enough to continue the programme independently at home and in their neighborhood. Goal setting would occur throughout and clinic check-in sessions could be scheduled to ensure the person is happy with progress and the exercise techniques.
Mark Hynes – Chartered Physiotherapist & Clinical Exercise Specialist