Health Blog

How To Control Your Balance

Balance is vital to normal every day life activities such as getting out of a chair and walking, bending over to put your shoes on, washing your hair, driving a car or going grocery shopping. Just about everything you do in your daily life, whether for work or leisure requires balance control, and most of the time you don’t have to think about it. If balance problems develop, though, they can cause profound disruptions in your daily life. In addition to increased risk for falls, balance disorders can shorten your attention span, disrupt normal sleep patterns, and/or cause excessive fatigue.

The balance control process

 

Ability to maintain balance is a complex process that depends on three major components: (1) your sensory systems for accurate information about your body’s position relative to your environment; (2) your brain’s ability to process this information; and (3) your muscles and joints for coordinating the movements required to maintain balance. The sensory systems include your sense of touch (feet, ankles, joints), your vision and your inner ear motion sensors. For example, we rely on our feet and joints to tell us if the surface we are standing on is uneven or moving. We rely on our eyes to tell us if the environment around us is moving or still. And we rely on our inner ears to tell us if we are upright or leaning, or standing still or moving.

Balance control is accomplished “automatically” without requiring our conscious attention. When our balance “auto pilot” is disrupted, we have to exert intense conscious effort to try to overcome the abnormal sensations and maintain control of our balance. This intense effort, in turn, is what leads to the common secondary symptoms such as shortened attention span and fatigue.

Loss of balance control

In a normal healthy individual our senses of touch (feet, ankles, joints), sight (eyes) and inner ear motion sensors work together in harmony with the brain. A person with a balance disorder, however, may have a problem in any one of these systems, or in multiple systems. In some individuals, one or more of the senses are missing and the person does not realize they are losing their balance. In other people, the brain gets confused and creates an inaccurate sense of falling when in fact the person is in balance. The risk of developing one or more of these problems increases with age as our senses or brain centers are exposed to degenerative or infectious diseases, or the effects of injuries accumulated over a lifetime.

Inevitable?

Is a loss of balance control an inevitable consequence of aging? No. The natural aging process produces changes in our bodies as we grow older, but these changes do not necessarily result in a loss of balance control or mobility. Healthy seniors are quite able to perform daily life activities normally with few physical limitations. In fact, recent studies have indicated that, elderly fallers are different from their healthy, age-matched counterparts1, 2, 3. Dizziness among older adults can also be caused by a collection of subtle degenerative or infectious processes or injuries that in combination result in a balance problem4.

 

Some individuals experiencing balance problems have an obvious medical diagnosis such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or even a stroke that are primary sources of the problem. In other individuals with balance difficulties, the cause can even be subtle undetected forms of these diseases. However, diseases are not the only reason our senses and movements may be compromised. A history of injuries, such as concussions, ear infections, or serious sprains or fractures, may contribute to a loss of balance control over time. In addition, various combinations of medications, both prescription and over the counter, can be detrimental to our senses or brain and cause either temporary or permanent damage.

Identifying and treating balance disorders

Because of the complexity of balance control, not all balance problems are the same. As mentioned above, some individuals lack information from a sensory system and do not realize they are losing their balance, while for others, the brain gets confused and creates an inaccurate sense of being off balance. Because of the wide variety of balance problems, determining the cause of a balance disorder and what treatment options are the most appropriate can be difficult. In the last twenty years, however, there have been significant advances in evaluation and treatment approaches to balance disorders that have proven to be highly effective and offer relief to those suffering from imbalance or dizziness. There are also medical professionals and clinicians who are specially trained to apply these evaluation and treatment methods.

Balance can be improved

It is not uncommon for individuals with a history of balance problems to regain their balance control through accurate diagnosis followed by specific medical treatment and/or rehabilitation exercises. One famous example is astronaut John Glenn. Following his historic space flights in the 1960’s, Glenn experienced balance problems that disqualified him from service. After a rehabilitation program, Glenn was able to return to space at the age of 77 and he performed as well as his younger colleagues. You can recover from balance disorders and regain your control. And you can do this even at an advanced age!

 

 

Balance and Dizziness Workshop

I am hosting a Balance and Dizziness Workshop coming up.

During the workshop–

I will reveal the single biggest #1 mistake most vertigo and dizziness sufferers make…and how to not make this mistake…and if you make this mistake…learn how to overcome it.

You will learn the 3 most common causes of vertigo…dizziness…balance problems…and unsteadiness.

I will show you a sure fire way to pick the right treatment for the cause of your condition.

And most importantly, you will see what successful treatment looks like…including one amazingly simple treatment that takes less than 5 minutes to fix a certain type of vertigo.

Click here to register and hold you spot.

 

References:

1. Horak, F.B., Shupert, C.L., & Mirka, A. (1989). Components of postural dys-control in the elderly: a review. Neurobiology of Aging, 10, 727-738.

2. Whipple, R. & Wolfson, L.I. (1989). Abnormalities of balance, gait, and sensori-motor function in the elderly population. In Duncan, P.W. (Ed.), Balance: Proceedings of the APTA Forum, American Physical Therapy Association, Alexandria, VA, 61-68.

3. Lizardi, J.E., Wolfson, L.I. & Whipple, R.H. (1989).Neurological dysfunction in the elderly prone to fall. Journal of Neurological Rehabilitation, 3 (3), 113-116.

4. Tinetti, et al (2000). Dizziness among older adults: A possible geriatric syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine 132:337-403)

5. Tinetti, M.E. & Speechley, M. (1989). Prevention of falls among the elderly. The New England Journal of Medicine, 320 (16), 1055-1059.

 

 

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Our Reviews
Elaine Krause
Elaine Krause
18:18 11 Dec 19
I attended several of the Saturday workshops at OBTS to increase my knowledge as a yoga instructor. Noel’s informative presentations were tailored to meet the needs of those individuals who were present. I took advantage of the free assessment offered to the attendees, and chose to try PT to resolve a minor issue. The therapists did an excellent job correcting the problem quickly. Great team of professionals! Thank you!
Timothy Knopf
Timothy Knopf
20:18 30 Oct 19
Best therapy place around. I would recommend this place to everyone. They have the best group of therapists around.
Mitchell Udowitz
Mitchell Udowitz
20:43 27 Oct 19
I have been to two Physical Therapy places prior to finding Orthopedic & Balance Therapy in Valparaiso. While they were ok they don’t hold a candle to Orthopedic & Balance Therapy. OBT team works as one in harmony and they stay on top of the latest technology for their patients. Their team is so very knowledgeable and very friendly plus they generally care about what they are doing and it shows. They are concerned about the whole person not just the injury they need to be treated for.
Barbara Serynek
Barbara Serynek
18:52 03 Oct 19
The entire staff has been very pleasant, professional and accommodating. Both Kristen and Joe have given me the best massages. Kate and Kollin made sure that I was doing my excercises and helped to move things along. Feeling better every visit. I'm so glad that I chose Orthopedic & Balance.
Heidi Richardson
Heidi Richardson
17:00 19 Sep 19
I went to physical therapy not expecting it to do very much to help because that’s the way I approach everything with low expectations. Noel and his team have made my neck feel so much better that it puts me in a more positive mood each day and I actually feel more positive and more productive on a day-to-day basis..
Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
16:26 14 Aug 19
I could barely walk into OBTS six weeks ago. I had very bad lower back and hip pain. The progress has been life changing for me. I always walk out of there with little or no pain. The staff, Laura, Dr Diane, Angie and, of course, Peggy, have taught me so much to keep my pain at bay. I highly recommend this team.
Nancy Guenther
Nancy Guenther
15:28 12 Jul 19
Absolutely awesome! My walking has improved 110%. And my pain level is zero. I highly recommend them. Go....you will be amazed how much better you feel.
Tracie Baxter
Tracie Baxter
20:24 03 Jul 19
This was the only place that could help with my TMJ. If you’re suffering from TMJ go see Noel! He really understands the condition. I no long have to deal with constant pain! The whole staff at this office is amazing and very welcoming.
Cindy Standiford
Cindy Standiford
21:33 28 Jun 19
The whole team is great!! I’m getting great care! I recommend Orthopedic & Balance for any issues you might have.
Joseph Mulholland
Joseph Mulholland
19:53 09 May 19
Amazing staff and amazing care. I came in barely able to stand up straight due to a back injury. After 6 weeks, I feel like brand new. Everyone was extremely helpful and easy to work with. Highly recommended!
Trool u
Trool u
19:44 24 Apr 19
I am a PTA student that was required 16 hours of observation time. I had the pleasure of completing my hours at this Valpo location. The staff is incredibly friendly. They were quick to make me feel at home. In a way I was sad to leave, but happy to continue on. I hope to eventually work in this field with a work family this caring and knowledgeable about their profession.
sharon Kramer
sharon Kramer
16:23 18 Apr 19
My experience has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience in getting me to feeling better. The staff does a remarkable job and are fully qualified in their respective areas. The staff made it fun coming here and they were very caring and helpful with their clients!!
Tim Nash
Tim Nash
15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
Arlene Gross
Arlene Gross
15:58 22 Jun 18
Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
Jose Ico
Jose Ico
12:43 27 Apr 18
My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
Paul Grant
Paul Grant
21:51 03 Apr 18
I have read lots of reviews that say "the entire staff of ..." is great, and you know that it is BS.. .. Butt at OBTS that statement is true. The person answering the phone, appointment setting they work around my schedule. It is truly a team concept. Everyone that has work with/on me keeps me focus on getting healthy to play golf.... Even those employees that haven't work with/on me are upbeat, positive and encouraging both their patients and me..... follow up phone calls, positive, hand written notes of encouragement, reminding me to do my homework so I can play golf this year. Great Employees, Great Business!.
Diane Burns
Diane Burns
02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
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