New, simple tests are available to assess if you may be at risk
- Have you fallen in the past year?
- Are you afraid that you might fall?
- Do you frequently need to use your arms to rise from chairs?
*Answering YES to any of these questions indicates that you may be at risk for falling. If you are at risk, or you are concerned about taking the sit to stand physical test, proceed directly to the action steps to reduce your risk.
What some people don’t realize is that balance problems and/or muscle weakness can also lead to falls. The good news is that you can reduce your risk for falling! Below is a simple test, adapted from the American Physical Therapy Association that you can try at home to determine your risk for falling. To perform this test you will need a straight-backed chair and a stopwatch or clock with a second hand.
- Sit in the middle of the chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms folded across your chest.
- Time yourself or have some one else time you do the following:
Rise to a full stand and return to a complete sitting position. Repeat this as many times as you are able in 30 seconds. If you are on your way up when time is up, that counts as one.
Your Fall Risk Score:
- 8 or less times in 30 seconds = HIGH Risk
- 9 to 12 times in 30 seconds = MODERATE Risk
- 13 or more times = LOW Risk
For those in the high risk category, consult your Physical Therapist and/or physician for advice and instruction on how to improve your strength. You should be formally assessed and only perform exercise under supervision until your strength and balance improve.
For those in the moderate risk category, you should perform the two exercises described below as well as consult your Physical Therapist or physician if you would like more information on how to increase your strength and balance.
Sit to Stand:
- Sit in a straight back chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Count to four as you slowly rise up to a standing position. ( If this is too difficult, you may start by using your hands for support.)
- Pause. Slowly lower yourself towards the chair as you bend your knees to the count of four.
- Repeat 10 times. Rest for one minute. Repeat for a second 10 times. ( You may start with less repetitions and build up to 10)
Side Hip Raise:
- Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart and toes facing forward. Keep your legs straight. Place both hands on the back of the chair for support.
- Slowly lift your left leg out to the side as you count to four. Keep your leg and back straight. (Only a small amount of movement is necessary)
- Pause. Then, slowly lower your left leg to the count of four back to the floor.
- Repeat 10 times with the left leg and 10 times with the right leg. Rest for 1 minute. Complete a second set of 10 with each leg.
As always, consult with your Physical Therapist or physician before beginning an exercise program. If you have any questions on this article or the exercise, I would be happy to speak to you.