Here are some strategies to avoid a fall this winter:
- Learn to walk like a penguin! Yes, shuffling instead of walking is one of the best ways to maintain balance on an icy surface. Like a penguin walks, you can turn your feet out slightly, take small steps and walk with flat feet. Check out this video to learn more about the waddle!
- Adjust your standing position to maximize your chances of staying upright. Don’t carry items in your hands; they can break a fall if necessary. A wider stance will create a more significant centre of balance, so take a slight bend in the knees to adjust to uneven surfaces and walk more slowly than you would in warm weather conditions.
- The best way to avoid a fall is through prevention. There are many exercises your physio can show you to improve your balance and increase lower body mobility and stability, just in case it’s needed. You can do this simple test to assess your balance: balance standing on just one foot and time yourself. If you can’t maintain a steady position for one full minute without using your hands for support, you might have a balance issue that needs further investigation and attention. It’s much easier to maintain balance than try to regain it later.
- There are many options for devices to minimize the risk of falls in slippery conditions. Examples include traction devices for footwear (such as Yak Trax) and walking poles. If you don’t have access to these, at least wear flat-heeled shoes with rubber-soled grips.
What can you expect during a Vestibular Rehab session?
A proper vestibular rehab assessment can be lengthy but must be thorough.
You can expect the following:
- Discussion about the history and nature of your symptoms
- Screening for a more severe cause of dizziness or unsteadiness
- Evaluation of eye movements assisted by infrared video-analysis
- Testing for sensitivity to motion or position change
- Evaluation of stationary and moving balance
- Testing other areas that could be contributing, like neck problems or blood-pressure
Following the assessment, a wide variety of treatment options are available. The treatments can include eye exercises, training to reduce sensitivity, balance challenges, and strategies for dealing with cognitive and psychological impacts.
The balance retraining done as part of vestibular rehab is also helpful for clients who may not have a vestibular problem but may have orthopedic, sensory, or other brain-related disorders affecting their equilibrium.