APTA Responds to The Washington Post on Balance and Falls

August 7, 2009

Dear Editor:

"On Balance, Your Ability to Move With Confidence Is Central to a Healthy Life" (August 4, 2009) raises an important point -- loss of balance and falls could be prevented if adults are screened for balance and mobility impairments just as they are evaluated regularly for cardiovascular conditions and cholesterol levels.

As your article states, loss of balance and limitations in mobility can be effectively prevented, reversed, or delayed at any age. Research shows that individually prescribed muscle strengthening and balance retraining programs developed by a health care professional, as well as programs like Tai Chi are beneficial in helping older adults achieve and maintain their mobility and effectively respond to balance challenges.1

A comprehensive balance assessment performed by a physical therapist can be effective in determining what factors are contributing to an individual's loss of mobility, risk for falls, and/or decreased confidence. Once this information has been gathered the therapist can then determine which program would be most beneficial to reduce the individual's risk of falling.

Though age alone is a risk factor for falling, falls are not an inevitable part of aging.


Alice Bell PT, GCS
Section on Geriatrics, American Physical Therapy Association