Balance, Fall Prevention

Improving Mobility and Well Being

Our experienced team works with patients' unique injuries and issues to help them gain the skills they need to lead comfortable, productive lives.

Loss of balance and mobility are not inevitable as we grow older! However, sudden falls in older individuals are of concern because the incidence of balance problems is known to increase significantly with age. Falls are typically not the result of a single cause or risk factor, more often they are the combination of factors.

Preventing Falls

Falls can be caused by:

  • Physical Fitness
    Activity maintains muscle tone and flexibility and slows bone loss. Regular weight bearing exercises and training can build and tone muscles.
  • Illness and Medications
    If you take four or more medications, you are at a higher risk for falls.
  • Reflexes
    Reflexes are responses to stimuli in the environment. As you age, reaction time slows and regaining your balance following a sudden movement may be difficult.
  • Cognition
    Your brain's ability to process information.
  • Sensation
    Your body has sensors that allow perception of the environment. Your sensory system includes your sense of touch / position, your vision and inner ear motion sensors. If your sensation is impaired, you may not detect changes in your environment.
  • Vision
    We rely on our eyes to locate objects in our environment and to tell us if the objects are moving.
  • Vestibular
    Our inner ear sensors tell us if we are upright or leaning, standing still or moving.

Safety Tips

Watch Out For:

  • Loose carpets
  • Area rugs
  • Slippery floors
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Obstacles - clutter
  • Icy conditions
  • Unfamiliarity to the environment

Indoor Safety Tips

  • Keep all rooms free from clutter, especially on the floors.
  • Do not place pet dishes in your walking path.
  • Keep floor surfaces smooth but not slippery.
  • Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes.
  • Avoid walking around in socks, stockings, or scuffs.
  • Eliminate area rugs when possible. Check that all carpets and other rugs are tacked to the floor, including carpet on stairs.
  • Be sure that all stairwells are well lit and that stairs have handrails on both sides.
  • For optimal safety, install grab bars beside tubs, showers, and toilets. Use a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries beside your bed. Use night lights to illuminate frequently traveled paths, such as the route from the bedroom to the bathroom.
  • Use a bag or tray on your walker to carry objects.
  • Add ceiling fixtures to rooms lit by lamps only, or hook up a lamp that is activated by a switch near the entrance into the room.
  • Use adequate lighting with at least 100-watt bulbs.
  • If you must use a stepstool, use a sturdy one with a handrail and wide steps. Reorganize work and storage areas to minimize the need for stooping or excessive reaching.
  • Consider using a portable phone that you can take with you from room to room. Pre-program telephone numbers to make contact easier.
  • Arrange time with a family member or friend for daily contact. Have at least one person who always knows where you are. You may wish to contract a monitoring company such as Evangelical's Lifeline program that will respond to your call 24 hours a day.

Outdoor Safety Tips

  • Use a walker or cane for added stability.
  • Wear warm boots with rubber soles for added traction.
  • If sidewalks look slippery, walk on the grass for better traction.
  • In winter, sprinkle rock salt or kitty litter on sidewalks or streets that are slippery.
  • Look carefully at floor surfaces in public buildings.
  • When these surfaces are wet, they become slick and dangerous. When floors have plastic or carpet runners in place, stay on them whenever possible.

Janine Fee, MS, MPT, practices vestibular and balance rehabilitation in a variety of settings, including inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, emergency department, and acute care. She holds Master's degrees in Exercise Physiology and Physical Therapy, and is certified in Vestibular Rehabilitation.

Getting Help

If you have experienced one or more falls in the past six months or have spells of dizziness, feel unsteady on your feet, or if you are limiting your activity due to fear of falling you should talk to your doctor.

Evangelical Community Hospital Rehabilitation Department has developed a comprehensive balance program to evaluate and treat your balance disorders. The balance program is staffed by vestibular-trained physical therapist Janine Fee, MS, MPT, to provide a quality, comprehensive service to adults with balance deficits to enable them to live productive and satisfying lives as independently as possible.

If dizziness/vertigo is your primary complaint and would like more information, click on the vertigo heading under specialty areas. If you feel you may benefit from physical and or occupational therapy, please discuss this option with your physician.

For more information regarding dizziness, visit our Vertigo Page. Or, contact our rehabilitation services at our Lewisburg location (570) 524-2600 or our Middleburg location at (570) 837-5257.