Friday, April 24, 2009

Physical screening to improve balance

The first step to take before beginning any kind of balance training program is to have a complete physical evaluation by your family physician. Be sure it is safe for you to begin an exercise program. Talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise is right for you, and then do it regularly. Exercise makes you stronger and improves your balance!

Ask your family physician for a referral to a Physical Therapist who will be able to do a thorough evaluation of your strength, range of motion, and balance in order to set up an individualized program to correct any deficits and help improve your balance.

Join a fitness club and continue with this program once you have completed your instruction with the Physical Therapist. Sometimes the Physical Therapist can accompany you to the fitness club and train you on the specific machines that are best suited for you, and techniques that help you avoid injury. Or you can work with a Personal Trainer, a Certified Senior Strength Trainer, or a knowledgeable employee at the fitness center.

Have your hearing checked. Many balance issues can be attributed to inner ear dysfunction.

Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Have your vision checked and make sure your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription is up to date and appropriate. It goes without saying that your depth perception can influence how you move your body through space. Have you ever tried going downstairs with your reading glasses on and suddenly everything looked blurry or out of focus?

Have your feet checked for decreased sensation or feeling. Be mindful of a diabetic condition called neuropathy. This is not only painful, but can definitely interfere with your balance.

Be aware of any other disease processes that may affect your balance, as well as changes in mental status or activity level.

Have your pharmacist or your doctor review your current medications for side effects and drug interactions that may result in conditions such as drowsiness or dizziness.

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