Diabetes Educational Support and Diabetes Prevention Seminars

2013 Stepping to Better Balance with Exercise

Ask The Expert: Stepping Forward to Better Balance with Diabetes July 24, 2013

Gladys Cruz Nicholls, Senior Physical Therapist for Seton Outpatient Rehabilitation, spoke to the Seton Diabetes Support Group and shared the facts about diabetes, peripheral neuropathy  (nerve damage with possible loss of sensation in the extremities) and health risks.

Peripheral neuropathy decreases our awareness of subtle changes in the ground that may require shifts in our center of gravity – if we don’t adjust, we are more likely to fall.

Did you know?

  • 50% of all persons with type 2 diabetes have peripheral neuropathy.
  • Persons with peripheral neuropathy are 15 times more likely to report an injury after a fall.
  • In older adults peripheral neuropathy is associated with increased falls.
  • Mature women with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy are less able to shift weight at the ankle in a single leg stance, and are at higher risk than men to “lose their balance”.

Balance is the ability to stay upright when outside forces distract you!

To reduce the risk of falls or injuries after falls, persons with diabetes and/or peripheral neuropathy can improve their personal sense of balance with some structured exercises.  Gladys discussed the importance of posture and body alignment, breathing and core control.

She shared evidenced-based research results that demonstrated the benefit of strengthening distal lower extremity strength after the diagnosis to improve strength, balance and confidence levels.

The following exercises were reviewed with the group.

Attached is a copy of possible exercises to improve balance.