Benefits of physical therapy and balance training in senior citizens

Written by Thomas Jorno

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Body Balance control is the ability of a person to move and do daily living activities independently. It involves a series of functions of visual, hearing and musculoskeletal systems in the body. The visual system provides information on the body movement and position relative to the environment, whereas, the hearing system helps decide the direction and speed of the movement, and accordingly, musculoskeletal system response to maintain body posture and stability in various positions and movements. However, these integrated functions gradually decline with age.

Balance disorders are common experiences in senior citizens and are the leading cause of falls, disability and sometimes even death. The following are a few reasons that contribute to balance impairment in older persons:

  1. Impaired senses: with age, visual power and sense of hearing may gradually get impaired affecting coordination, stability, and balance.
  2. Muscles and bone changes: in an older person, the muscles and bones are weak causing difficulty maintaining body posture and movements.
  3. Lack of good health and exercise: lifestyle changes with age, activities and body movements become slow and clumsy in nature that limits good diet and exercises leading to loss of muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance.
  4. Chronic illness: chronic illness during old age such as heart disease, diabetes, low blood pressure can cause dizziness affecting body balance.
  5. Dependent on medications: intake of a variety of medicines to manage chronic illness cause drowsiness, affect the brain and so the body balance.

There are many benefits of physiotherapy and balance training, the following are few:

  1. Improve balance: specific physiotherapy exercises step by step starting from simpler to complex help adjust the body and gradually gain control which improves balance allowing independent activities and movements.
  2. Minimize falls: physiotherapy exercises help restore and strengthen joints and muscle which reduces the risk of falls.
  3. Prevent disability: physiotherapy helps modify home and environment for easy accessibility and also provides education on the prevention of falls to prevent disabilities.
  4. Stay active: physiotherapy help carries out home-based therapy that are task-related exercises that not only help reduce the adverse effects of chronic illness but also help stay active and functional.
  5. Social and emotional wellbeing: physiotherapy help an individual to join group therapy in the community where they get to interact with persons undergoing the same stage and helps change the attitude for the better improving the quality of living.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4419050/
  2. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Physical_Activity_in_Older_Adults
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327545979_Effect_of_conventional_balance_exercises_and_electronic_balance_board_on_elderly_individuals
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279394/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15560702
  6. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/45621705/Balance_disorders_in_the_elderly20160514-8842-qwvndu.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DBalance_disorders_in_the_elderly.pdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A%2F20200128%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20200128T190215Z&X-Amz-Expires=3600&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=95e45ce86b2109faccd2d77b3b9cdfad06ef14eaeb86b0f366c6e2603d3ce944
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/aging/art-20046070