Today we are going to answer a question which I often hear from my patients, which is “Can My Reaction Time Be Improved with Practice?”
The answer is, that in younger people, when they lose their balance, or they almost fall, they initiate a balance reaction which is an adjustment in the position of the hips or the body – or taking a step to catch themselves before they actually fall and hit the ground.
Most younger people are able to do this without even thinking about it because it is an unconscious balance reaction that naturally occurs. As people get older, it’s been shown that there is a delay in the ability to initiate a balance reaction when they lose their balance – a slower reaction time.
And that does increase their risk of falling as people are getting older. However, it has been shown through multiple research studies that if an older adult practices their reactions to losing their balance under the supervision of a physical therapist, in a safe and controlled environment… that repeatedly practicing your balance reactions can improve the ability to catch yourself if you do lose your balance under a normal condition.
Therefore, balance reactions and reaction time can be improved with practice.
So, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor if you feel that your balance reactions and reaction time are just not what they used to be, and ask for a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in the vestibular system.
You can find a physical therapist that specializes in the vestibular system at Vestibular.org.
My afterthought: Research indicates that 50 hours of challenging balance exercises are required for a “fall protective” effect. If you live in San Diego and would like my assistance with enrolling in an appropriate physical therapy or exercise program to reduce your fall risk or improve your balance, check out my patient care services.
I offer private house call services using The Bell Method Assessment and Treatment Strategies for patients with dizziness, vertigo and imbalance of all ages, and older adults with a high fall risk. Patients can access my physical therapy services with or without a physician’s referral due to California’s Direct Access to Physical Therapy Law.
For older patients with a high fall risk, I can assist with arranging skilled home health physical therapy services which will likely be covered 100% by traditional Medicare. When possible, I try to refer my patients to physical therapists who I have trained in my unique, comprehensive methodology, The Bell Method.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.