A common issue that plagues many chiropractic patients is slips and falls. These seemingly innocent accidents can lead to extensive recovery times, injuries and even life-threatening consequences, especially in the elderly population. Today, we’ll delve into the innovative approach taken at Life University’s (Life U) NeuroLIFE Institute (NLI) to assess patients’ balance and coordination, help prevent injuries and improve overall well-being.

Dr. Dom Fetterly, Director of the NLI, sheds light on their comprehensive approach to assessing patients. They employ a range of cutting-edge techniques and tools to determine a patient’s balance and coordination. One such method is the use of a force plate, which measures center of pressure and swaying patterns to identify irregularities. By comparing these data to normative values based on age and gender, they can discern what constitutes a healthy balance range and sway pattern.

“So, often in our initial examination, we’ll assess eye movements and also center of pressure of where people are in space,” said Dr. Fetterly. “It can be helpful to look at the eyes. That’s something not a lot of people look at, because where our eyes can and can’t go easily gives us information about where our body can and can’t go easily.”

Dr. Fetterly highlights this important assessment because it can provide valuable insights into a person’s balance and coordination. For instance, if someone has difficulty turning their head and looking in a particular direction, it may affect their body’s sense of balance and make them feel off-center. By identifying and addressing these issues, the NLI aims to rehabilitate patients from a central standpoint.

Within the chiropractic profession, there’s growing recognition of the significance of balance assessments, especially in the elderly population. Falls among the elderly can result in devastating hip fractures, often leading to dire consequences. Approximately one-third of patients who experience hip fractures end up passing away within a year. By preventing the likelihood of falling, chiropractors can make a substantial difference, particularly for the elderly.

The NLI offers a range of exercises and treatments tailored to each patient’s needs. These exercises often mirror the assessment tests, focusing on specific eye movements, head positions and body tilts. Additionally, they utilize rotation chairs to help patients regain their balance and coordination. Some patients may benefit from subtle adjustments like tilting forward to help them recorrect their posture and balance.

One important aspect of their approach is tailoring treatments to individual needs.  The duration and intensity of the treatment can vary depending on the patient’s activity level and how long they’ve experienced balance issues. More active patients might require shorter and less intensive treatments, while less active individuals might need more extended care. The ultimate goal is to make patients self-sustaining and empower them to maintain a healthy environment at home.

Balance disturbances are a prevalent issue, with up to 30-40% of NLI patients experiencing some form of balance problem. However, the conversation around balance and coordination assessment needs to shift from fixing problems after they occur to early detection and risk assessment.

Dr. Fetterly emphasizes the importance of changing the conversation around balance assessments. Instead of waiting for issues to manifest, he advocates for regular balance assessments as a preventive measure. Implementing simple and quick tests for balance can offer valuable data for both chiropractors and patients, allowing them to address potential issues before they become severe. He also wants to stress that individuals aim for healthy, and not merely normal, because normal in the context of aging often implies a decline in function. Instead, striving for a healthy state as we age is a more proactive approach. This shift in our mindsets can help maintain functionality and well-being.

Life U’s NLI is at the forefront of the chiropractic profession, emphasizing the importance of balance and coordination assessments for preventing slips and falls. Their approach focuses on early detection, tailoring treatments to individual needs and changing the conversation from fixing problems to preventing them. With the NLI’s commitment to improving brain health and balance, patients have the opportunity to live safer, healthier and happier lives regardless of age.

For more information regarding Life U’s NLI, go to: NeuroLIFEInstitute.com.


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