10 Apr Managing Fall Risk with Foot Braces
Can a Balance Brace Keep You Safe From Falls?
According to the National Council on Aging, 25% of all adults aged 65 or more have dangerous falls each year. Falls are the highest cause of death and the highest cause of trauma in elderly people. Can the right type of brace protect you or your loved one from a bad fall?
Braces and Recovery
You’re probably familiar with the traditional braces you might use if you’ve had a foot or ankle injury. If you’ve ever had a sprained ankle, a torn ligament, a case of Achilles tendonitis or another foot injury, you may have used one of these braces during your recovery.
These traditional braces can help you recover from an injury, but a balance brace is different. It’s designed to prevent injury by preventing you from falling.
What Is a Balance Brace?
A balance brace is a particular type of foot, knee or ankle brace that can improve your balance. If you’ve had trouble maintaining your balance as you age, a brace can keep you safe.
Balance braces are specifically designed to reduce postural sway, which is a medical term for being unsteady on your feet.
Do You Need a Balance Brace?
Your podiatrist can determine if you have postural sway, postural imbalance or an unstable gait. If you do have one of these conditions, you could be at high risk for frequent falls.
Some people who might need a balance brace are those who:
- Have a history of falls.
- Have chronically weak ankles.
- Suffer from “foot drop,” a walking imbalance that results from a stroke.
- Severe diabetic neuropathy.
- Degenerative joint disease or other advanced joint diseases.
How Does a Balance Brace Work?
Your balance brace will be custom fitted for your foot. At Shuman Podiatry, we use 3D imaging to get a perfect size and fit for all our custom orthotics and braces. We work with a licensed, certified pedorthist to create a protective piece of footwear that’s comfortable, supportive and properly fitted.
The balance brace typically provides a solid platform for your foot and an open design. You can wear them over your regular shoes. It fully stabilizes your ankle, provides arch support and keeps your heel steady.
A Balance Brace Is Part of the Solution
A balance brace can improve your balance, but it should only be part of an overall therapeutic plan that includes:
- An exercise program to build muscle strength.
- Regular stretching to increase flexibility.
- Training to improve proprioception.
- Changes to work or home environments.
- Other Braces You Might Need
If you’re recovering from an injury, your podiatrist might prescribe other types of braces to help you heal from them.
Rigid brace: This provides the highest level of control and support. A rigid brace often covers your entire foot. This type of brace is useful for recovery from Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures or arthritic joints.
Medium brace: This often has a lace-up style. It usually covers part of your foot or ankle and is easily removable. It’s more flexible than a rigid brace, but it still prevents your foot or ankle from sliding around. A medium brace is usually indicated for ankle sprains, pressure ulcers, and plantar fasciitis.
Soft brace: This offers a level of support that’s similar to a sleeve or a taping. It protects your ankle or foot from slipping out of alignment. A soft brace can reduce pain while you’re recuperating from soft tissue injuries or swollen ankles.
Depending on the condition you have, your podiatrist might prescribe night splints.
Night splints provide very gentle stretching of a ligament or muscle throughout the night. They allow you to sleep without being interrupted by pain and without the worry of making your condition worse. Because of its slight stretch, a night splint relieves the stiffness you often experience when you wake up with an injured or torn ligament.
Get In Balance at Shuman Podiatry
If you’re concerned about your ability to keep your balance when you’re walking, talk to Shuman Podiatry. We can create a custom balance brace that will help you stay safe.