You may not think about balance on a daily basis; however balance control is an integral part of everyday life. Getting out of a car, walking, bending over to put on your shoes, driving or going grocery shopping all require good balance control.
At least half of the population in the United States will experience balance problems at some point in their lives, especially as they get older. In addition to an increased risk of falls, balance dysfunctions and dizziness cause profound disruptions in your daily life.
Risk factors for balance problems include:
- Dizziness or unsteadiness
- More than one fall over the past year
- Recent period of bed rest or inactivity
- Loss of strength or feeling in the legs or feet
- Loss of confidence in your ability to get around
- Taking one or more medications that list dizziness as a possible side effect
- Environmental factors including rugs, dim lighting or shelves that are too high
- Inability to stand on one leg for at least five seconds
Loss of balance and mobility, as well as dizziness, is not inevitable as we grow older. Our ability to maintain balance is a complex process, dependent on three major components:
- Your sensory system, for accurate information about your body's position relative to your environment
- Your brain's ability to process this information
- Your muscles and joints, for coordination of movements to maintain balance
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is an illusion of movement or dizziniss. The most common cause of vertigo is BPPV, a condition that involves the inner ear. It is characterized by:
- Brief episodes of dizziness when the head is turned in certain positions.
- Can appear suddenly or may appear after trauma.
- Patients report symptoms when lying down, rolling over in bed, bending over or looking up.
Physical Therapy Can Help Treat This Condition
A trained physical therapist can address the inner ear condition and often helps patients within only a few treatment sessions.
Therapy can also address residual balance issues associated with BPPV. A home exercise program can assist patients to feel more steady and reduce the risk of falls.
Because of the complexity of the balance control system, accurate identification of the dysfunctional component or combination of components is vital to formulating an effective treatment plan.
SERC Physical and Hand Therapy has Physical Therapists that are specifically trained in Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy. In addition to evaluating and treating balance and dizziness disorders, SERC also works closely with the Mid-America Balance Institute and your physician for comprehensive balance testing.
Take a moment to re-read the risk factors above. Then, take our balance quiz. If you are suffering from one or more of these factors and answer "yes" to any of the questions in the balance questionnaire, you could be at risk for a balance disorder. The best way to determine if you have balance problems is to talk with your physician, who may recommend that you get a comprehensive balance test by a medical professional qualified in this area.
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