Concerned About Balance or Falls? - Breakaway Physical Therapy
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Concerned About Balance or Falls?

Balance and Falls

The holidays are right around the corner. This is the time of year for gathering and celebration. Many of us travel near or far to see family members and friends. Many of us examine our lives and think about changes to make for the coming year. When getting together with friends and relatives, especially older individuals or those living with a musculoskeletal condition, you may notice they are moving a little slower.

When reflecting on your own year you may be feeling a little more off balance this year or that your reflexes are not as quick as they once were. You may be concerned, or even wondering if you should be concerned?

A Few Key Questions

  • Am I/Are they having difficulty walking and holding a conversation?
  • Am I/Are they using furniture or walls to keep balance?
  • Am I/Are they relying on the railings when going up and down stairs or curbs?
  • Am I/Are they having difficulty getting up or down from a chair, couch or other low surface?
  • Am I/Are they unable to reach or lean forward without holding on to something?
  • Have you/Have they fallen in the past year?

If you answered YES to any of these questions you may want to consider an assistive device to decrease your risk of a fall.

What Should I Get?

One great option to improve balance is a cane. Canes are a great tool for those who need a little extra help with balance. They are easy to access and easy to use.

Where Can I Find Them?

Canes can be purchased relatively inexpensively (Usually under $50) from most larger pharmacies and online retailers. When selecting a cane get one that you like with a comfortable handle. There are many styles of feet, select one with a nice sturdy base.

Adjust It to Fit You

  1. 1
    Stand up straight and place your hands on your hips.
  2. 2
    Slide your hand down the side of your leg until you feel a bony bump. This bump is called the greater trochanter. This is typically around the height of your wrist if your arms are by your sides.
  3. 3
    Loosen the ring at the base of the cane then push the button on the side so you can slide the tube and change the height.
  4. 4
    Select the notch that puts the top of the handle at the greater trochanter.
  5. 5
    Tighten the ring at the base of the cane for security.

At this point you should be able to hold the cane with a relaxed arm.

You should NOT have to shrug your shoulder or bend down to reach the handle.

Which Hand Should I Hold It In?

Canes work by taking the pressure off of the weakest or most painful leg. You should hold the cane in the hand opposite the leg that is bothering you. For example: If your Right knee is painful, you should hold the cane in your left hand. This helps to move your center of gravity over the more secure leg and provides another point of contact when moving your affected leg. You should always make sure to have the cane firmly on the ground when moving the painful limb.

Safety First

Remember a cane should only be used as an extra point of balance. They are not designed to manage all, or even half, of your bodyweight. If you or your loved one are relying on a cane to take the pressure off of one leg the cane could slip out from under them and cause them to fall. 

Let Us Help You Pick the Best Device

If you are using your cane for more than just balance, then it is not the correct tool for you. If this is the case it would be wise to ask a professional. Make an appointment with a skilled physical therapist at Breakaway Physical Therapy for a balance assessment. One of our Doctors of Physical Therapy can test your balance. They can identify what activities are particularly challenging and help retrain your body for better balance. They can ensure your cane is fit properly or help you select a safer, more appropriate assistive device to help you get around. They want you to keep moving and will help find a tool to keep up with you and keep you safe.

Call Today 410-721-6333 for your balance assessment or to talk with a physical therapist to see if you are a good fit for therapy.

Brittany Gunter

Brittany Gunter

Brittany graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore with an emphasis on the pelvic floor. She attended Penn State for Kinesiology before that. I became interested in PT in college and also had a women's health course that opened my eyes to disparities in care and ultimately lead me to specializing in pelvic floor treatments. I’m Super excited to have joined the Breakaway team. My favorite part of PT is empowering patients by giving them the tools they need to get better and remain healthy/maintain wellness for the rest of their lives. In my free time I enjoy hiking, yoga/ Pilates, trivia, and traveling.
Brittany Gunter

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