Good balance is important to maintain and control the body’s positioning during daily activities. When balance is disturbed, one’s quality of life can be affected significantly. If balance is challenged then activities that may have been easy at one point will become more difficult, and the issue of safety becomes a concern.
Of all things that get better with age…
… balance is not one of them! Studies have shown that balance deteriorates with age. This could result in older individuals having difficulties performing activities that require sufficient balance. With a decrease in balance, there is an increase in risk of falls, and a greater chance of injury. It has been reported that a third of adults age 65 or greater fall each year.
Commonly Diagnosed Balance Disorders
Impaired balance can be the effect of the aging process but also may be caused by a medically diagnosed balance disorder. The most common balance disorders are Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, Labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, Vestibular neuronitis, and Perilymph fistula. Many of these disorders are related to neurological conditions or inner ear problems. Symptoms of a balance disorder may include (but are not limited to) dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness, disorientation, blurry vision, falling or a sensation of falling. Diagnoses of a balance disorder should be made by a physician after thorough examination, and treatment will vary based on each individual. In addition to the above balance disorders, balance problems could be caused by changes to strength, coordination and flexibility or illness, infection, medication, and diet. You are encouraged to seek out an evaluation with your physician if you are experiencing problems with your balance, particularly if it could be the result of an underlying condition.
In order to maintain balance, a variety of systems are called into play. The necessary components are adequate muscular strength and coordination which is primarily driven by the orthopedic system (bones, joints, and muscles) and neurological system (brain, spinal cord, nerves, and small joint and muscle receptors). Additionally, one uses the senses of vision, hearing, and touch to aid in the balance activities. There are a variety of exercises utilized to increase balance that will progress from standing still to greater difficulty incorporating movement into the exercises. Difficulty of exercises can also be progressed by allowing for changes to the external environment along with manipulation of sensory variables such as vision, hearing, and touch. A basic balance training routine will contain movements that can be performed to increase balance, strength, and coordination. Proper balance exercise prescription needs to be specific to the patient, condition, and symptoms.
ProEx Physical Therapy Can Help You!!
While balance begins to deteriorate slowly in the 30’s and much faster in the mid-60’s and beyond, exercises can be performed to lessen the effect of these balance changes. Trained medical professionals can assist in preserving current balance ability and restoring lost balance by prescribing appropriate balance exercises and introducing training devices. Safety measures that can be taken at home should be discussed to allow for optimal balance during all necessary daily activities. Additionally, if a lack of balance is an immediate safety issue then instruction and training on the use of walking aids such as walkers and crutches can be provided as necessary. If you are currently suffering from a balance related problem then consult your medical doctor to explore physical therapy as a treatment option. To contact a ProEx physical therapist click here http://www.proexpt.com/content.php?l=66