Balance and/or dizziness issues can impact your day to day life significantly. If your balance is sufficiently affected you may not feel safe to drive or even to go out in public. The fear of falling and hurting yourself is very real for some individuals. If you feel continuously dizzy or light-headed your ability to concentrate and participate in employment or recreational activities can also be affected.
What is Balance?
Normal balance is the ability to maintain an upright position without falling or losing stability. Your balance is dependent on the proper functioning of several of the body's systems:
- Vision: Provides information to the brain about your location in relation to the environment.
- Muscles & Joints: Nerves in your muscles and joints send information to your brain to tell you where one part of your body is in relation to the another.
- Skin: Nerves in the skin tell you brain about the pressure you are feeling from the surfaces around you.
- Inner ear (Vestibular System): Nerves in your inner ear tell the brain where your body is in relation to gravity. Is your body moving or is it standing still.
The vestibular system is found in the inner ear. It is a complex system of nerves, bones, and fluid that when working properly will assist you in maintaining your balance. When not working properly you may feel dizzy or that the room is spinning. You may also feel that you are going to fall.
There are a number of factors that can result in balance or dizziness issues:
- Inner ear disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
- Motor vehicle accident
Treatment is often provided in partnership with ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist. Physiotherapy can help promote good balance as well as decrease the symptoms of dizziness. At Pearlgate Physiotherapy Services treatment can consist of education, exercises specific for your issue, manual therapy (gentle hands on treatment), strengthening and gait retraining.
Prevention of Falls
Sometimes as we age our balance can be affected. This may be due to a number of things; however, the majority of falls can be prevented. Statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that falls are the cause of 85% of all injuries requiring hospitalization for persons over the age of 65 years.
Physiotherapy can assist in the prevention of falls through the use of specific exercises, identifying hazards in the environment that can promote falling, and education regarding strategies to prevent falls.
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