Previously I wrote about the three sensory systems: somatosensory, visual and vestibular to help keep you balanced. Now that you have practiced those exercises which tap into each system, I wanted to put them all together and show you some additional drills. The multisensory system drills are fun and will challenge your abilities so please use caution when performing them. Please stop any of these drills if you become dizzy or disoriented at any time. Do not move on to the next drill until the first one can be performed with good balance.

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Did you know it takes three systems in our body to remain balanced? The first one is the somatasensory which involves the receptors in your skin, the feeling of touch. Your second system is the visual which is the relationship of your head and eyes to surrounding objects. Finally the vestibular is your head position in relation to gravity.

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According to the Center of Disease Control (www.cdc.gov ), one in every three individuals age 65 and older will fall. Falls among older adults can lead to physical injury and high rates of mortality. They are also very costly. The total cost of fall related injuries in the U.S. is to be as much as $54 Billion by 2020. (CDC, 2010) There are four main risk factors for falling: Environmental, Behavioral, Biological, and Socioeconomic. (Rose, 2010) The behavioral risk factors include multiple medication use, lack of exercise, inappropriate shoes and excess of alcohol consumption. As far as medication use, please contact your doctor if any of them are making you dizzy or sleepy. Make sure you wear supportive shoes that tie or Velcro and are easy to get on and off. Consume no more than one glass of beer or wine a day if you are a woman and two if you are male. But please check with your doctor if you are taking any medications that may interfere with alcohol. Lastly I would like to talk about exercise. It is the best preventative medicine out there! It can help with morbidity, flexibility, strength, stability and keep your heart and brain healthy. Studies prove that exercise is the best medicine.

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Working almost exclusively with seniors, my number one goal as an Occupational Therapist is fall prevention. Time and time again, I see that with a fall comes a decline in mobility, which leads to difficulty in self care like being able to dress or toilet yourself, difficulty negotiating stairs and so on. In order to maintain the best quality of life we can, fall prevention is essential. The good news is that many falls can be prevented. Here are some ideas:

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It seems to me the older we get the less stable we become. Why is this? I’ve discovered that as you age, you try to protect yourself from falling so you are more careful with your steps. What happens then? Muscle atrophy – when you don’t use something, you lose it. This is why it is very important to do stabilization exercises every day. Exercising the muscles that support your hips, torso and shoulders will help to prevent falls and broken bones.

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