At Team Health Care Clinic in Champlin, MN our team sees clients daily that have trouble with balance. Physical therapists offer many different techniques to treat balance with attention to your specific needs. Trouble with balance makes it difficult for people to hold themselves upright and steady when they are trying to walk, stand and even sit. Although the risk of having poor balance increases with age, balance issues are common in every age group.
What causes loss of balance?
There are 4 areas that help our bodies control balance:
- Inner ear (vestibular)
- Proprioception and muscle control
- Brain – coordinates all of these systems to help us maintain our balance.
Medical conditions and lifestyle factors may contribute to a loss of balance, including:
- Poor joint mobility
- Muscle weakness
- Inner ear problems
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Medical conditions such as a Stroke or Parkinsons’ disease
Poor Balance: What does it feel like?
A person with a balance issue may feel swaying, dizziness, vertigo, tripping, stumbling, and many times touching walls and furniture as they walk. Balance can be fine in a static position doing just 1 thing at a time. But when you try dynamic movements with multiple tasks, such as walking and looking at the shelves in the grocery store, or using the bathroom in the dark at night, the difficulty with balance can be more pronounced. These are all indications that a person’s balance is affected and needs to be addressed.
How Can My Physical Therapist Help?
Our physical therapists and chiropractors at Team Health Care are trained to assess the multiple systems affecting balance. We test the inner ear, muscle strength, joint range of motion, visual tracking, sensation, and body position awareness. In physical therapy we will also perform a balance test. In some cases it may be recommended that you use an assistive device such as a cane or a walker. We know this can be a difficult transition, and the assistive device doing more than just preventing you from falling. In therapy we look at it from the perspective of facilitating a “normal” movement pattern for your body to help improve your balance. This is only one part of the many movements and techniques we use to improve your balance. We will develop a specific treatment for you including movements and exercises you can do at home.
You don’t have to sustain a fall to have your balance assessed. I you are experiencing any difficulty with equilibrium, walking, standing or don’t feel confident in your balance it is important to seek your provider to have your systems that control balance assessed.