Here at Sportscare we treat a large number of people who have trouble with balance. It is very common; you are not alone. 75% of Americans older than 70 years are diagnosed as having “abnormal” balance.
But what is balance?
Balance is the ability to maintain your body position over your feet. In simple terms, it is your ability to not fall. Balance is subdivided into “static balance” when you are stationary, and “dynamic balance” when you are moving.
Do not confuse poor balance with dizziness (the sensation of spinning). They are often used interchangeably but are in fact distinctly different.
Balance is a complex system. For ideal function balance requires input from the vestibular system within the inner ear, vision, sensation, and a strong muscle system. Over the years people generally become reliant on one system while others deteriorate. Every balance case is unique and everyone has different goals.
Through detailed evaluation we examine these systems (oftentimes there is more than one culprit).
Case example 1: Individuals may become overly reliant on vision.
- Looking down while walking
- Increased unsteadiness at night when the lights are off or when the eyes are closed.
When this occurs, other systems decrease their input. As such within a structured physical therapy setting we start to re-introduce input to these systems in a steady and progressive fashion to build that input.
Case example 2: Individuals develop decreased muscle strength in specific muscle groups
- Unsteadiness with standing
- Unsteadiness with walking
- Unintentional swaying or movement to one side with walking.
Balance treatment for this involves endurance training and targeted strengthening of selected muscle groups identified through specific testing.
These are just two of many examples. The key takeaway is balance is common and can be improved.
Let SportsCare Physical Therapy help you get back on your feet!