Balance Can Improve With Physical Therapy
Balance is defined as one’s ability to maintain their line or center of gravity over their base of support (i.e. your feet when you are standing). In other words, it is having the control to stay upright and steady. When talking about balance, you might hear some other terminology used, including postural control and stability or equilibrium.
Balance is a combination of three sensory systems that form a feedback loop with the central nervous system to integrate them together and provide the proper activation and stabilizing techniques. The three systems are as listed: vestibular system, visual system, and proprioceptive or somatosensory system. The proprioceptive/somatosensory system is complex and consists of neurons and pathways and is most relied upon.
Proprioception is the bodies (muscles stretch, joints position, tendon stretch, skin) perception of movement, vibration, position and pressure. When these factors change, the pathways send a message back to the brain that sends signals for correction and adaptation.
The visual system takes in the visual field around you including depth, size, moving objects, etc. This information is incorporated and the body reacts.
The vestibular system which in the ear includes the utricle, saccule, and three semicircular canals provide sensory information regarding moti
on, equilibrium and spatial orientation. These impulses are sent to the brain about movement and which canal is stimulated and in turn the body reacts and adapts Balance problems occur when 1 or more of the systems in the body are not working properly.
Physical Therapy can help! Your PT will complete a thorough evaluation that includes your overall health history, medications, activity level, what you have difficulty with, examples of balance loss or being fearful of balance loss, and much more in order to paint a bigger picture of what the issues may be.
Physical therapists can offer numerous and a combination of options for treating balance problems, based on individual needs. PTs have extensive training to evaluate multiple systems of the body, including the strength of muscles, sensation and coordination, joint movements, inner ear, eye tracking, and position awareness. With this information, your physical therapist with teach and prescribe exercises and movement techniques to improve on the deficits.