• Gail Richards

Balance 101: The Fundamentals

Quality of life for millions of individuals is impacted daily by balance and vestibular impairment, but do you truly understand the complexity of balance and the role balance plays in how you interact with the world around you?

Most people think of dizziness or unsteadiness when they think of balance, and certainly there's a connection. But did you know that your balance is reliant upon the coordination of sensory input from your eyes, muscles, and joints?

To navigate within your environment you must perceive what is happening, process what you perceive and formulate a response, then you must react accordingly. Is there a car coming down the street? Is there an object in your path? Can you find the words to call the toddler back from the edge of the pool fast enough?

Sensory input that is not processed effectively is often the cause of acute or chronic balance issues because it prevents you from forming and executing an appropriate output reaction such as talking, walking, watching, or moving.

Balance and vestibular dysfunction can arise for many different reasons: injury, aging, neurological impairment and illness to name a few. For example, individuals who have suffered a concussion may struggle with dizziness as well as headaches, nausea, brain fog, and noise/light sensitivity. Someone with a neurological disorder like cerebral palsy may be working to walk or ambulate in the face of balance deficits.

Back to dizziness and unsteadiness: an associated concern with balance and vestibular dysfunction is the potential for injury as the result of a fall or other accident that could cause bodily harm or even death. Data from the CDC indicates that this is growing public health concerns for senior citizens and a growing burden on healthcare and insurance providers.

An excellent source of information for balance and vestibular topics is the Vestibular Disorders Association, VEDA. VEDA's website has a wealth of content that is comprehensive and well-written. Additionally, VEDA can connect you with many resources related to balance and vestibular health. We recommend diving into the VEDA website here: The Human Balance System: Good Balance is Often Taken for Granted.

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