Technology improves balance, prevents falls
From Spotlight on Health May/June 2007
With the assistance of Physical Therapist John Sipe,
Giles Roehl performs the Sensory Organization Test to measure the sensory input being provided to the brain relative to balance.
One-third of people older than 65 will experience a fall and some will become disabled as a result. But many falls could be prevented with improved balance.
“Falls are the number one cause for treatment in hospital emergency rooms for all age groups,” said John Sipe, physical therapist for St. Cloud Hospital Rehabilitation Center, located at CentraCare Health Plaza.
The Balance & Dizziness Program at St. Cloud Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center was established in autumn 2006 to help people concerned about their balance.
The program can help a variety of patients, such as Giles Roehl, who has Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s is a nerve cell disorder in the part of the brain controlling muscle movement. Physical therapy can help people with Parkinson’s disease improve mobility, range of motion and muscle tone. A physical therapist also can work to improve patients’ gait and balance.
“I hope to keep Parkinson’s at bay for as long as possible,” said Roehl, 70, of St. Cloud.
The comprehensive Balance & Dizziness Program team includes:
- Physical therapists, who evaluate strength, mobility, gait and balance. They use a computerized method to identify fall risks from multiple sources.
- Occupational therapists, who evaluate daily activities, cognition and environmental hazards in the home.
After completing the evaluations, the team members meet with the patient to develop a fall risk reduction plan customized to meet individual needs. Plans can be as simple as eliminating or reducing common risk factors in the home such as area rugs or electrical cords. However, if fall risk reduction requires specific training, the Balance & Dizziness Program provides it.
A health care provider’s referral is necessary. Generally, a health care provider will identify during a regular office visit that a patient is at risk of falling. The provider then would refer the patient to the Balance & Dizziness Program for a comprehensive evaluation. Medicare and insurance companies usually cover the cost of evaluations and treatment.
Learn more about the Balance & Dizziness Program