What Is A Balance Disorder?
The second most commonly reported complaint within doctors’ offices is dizziness and loss of balance. In fact, 76 million Americans will experience some sort of dizzy spell or vertigo at some point in their lives. These are both extremely common conditions that can affect your equilibrium, making you feel off balance.
A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy. If you are standing, sitting, or lying down, you might feel as if you are moving, spinning, or floating. Everyone has a dizzy spell now and then, but the term “dizziness” can mean different things to different people. For one person, dizziness might mean a fleeting feeling of faintness, while for another it could be an intense sensation of spinning (vertigo) that lasts a long time.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Balance Disorder?
- Dizziness or vertigo* (a spinning sensation)
- Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall
- Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation
- Blurred vision
- Confusion or disorientation.
Causes and Risk Factors Of Balance Disorders
Did you know?
- One-third of the population over 65 falls each year?
- In older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is rushed to the emergency room for a fall.
- Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Causes and Risk Factors Include:
- Older Age
- Vision Problems
- Muscle Weakness
- Previous Stroke or Heart Attack
- Medications (being on 4 or more)
- A History of Falls
- Medical Conditions (such as obesity, arthritis, low blood pressure)
- Diseases (such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes)
- Sedentary Lifestyles
- Ear Infections
- Head Injury
Common Diagnoses We Work With
- Central Nervous System Disorders
- Age-Related Balance Dysfunction
- Oculomotor (Visual) Dysfunction
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Ménière’s Disease
- Vestibular Neuronitis
- Nerve Injuries
Treatment For Balance Disorders
State-of-the-art testing equipment at Med Center Therapy assess the gait and posture of our patients to accurately pinpoint areas suffering from weakness, increased stress, decreased mobility, any many other factors that contribute to loss of balance and risk of falling. Based on the data provided by the fall and balance diagnostic tests, a specifically designed exercise program is implemented for each individual patient’s needs.
Vestibular Rehabilitation is conducted through a process of “adaptation and compensation.” This means that the vestibular system, also called the inner ear, is actually being “reprogrammed” through both passive and active therapies to form connections with the brain on adjusting imbalances and regaining stability. Contact Us at Med Center Therapy, and our experienced Physical Therapists will create a plan of care to begin retraining your vestibular system to regulate feelings of stability and balance.
How Our Aquatic Therapists Can Help
Pain Management- Our 94 degree therapeutic pools help soothe aching muscles and joints to promote mobility where there is stiffness and increase blood flow to the affected areas. Mineralization of the water promotes buoyancy for floatation that reduces pain associated with effects of gravity when exercising.
Postural Correction- Fall risks are often associated with postural imbalances that increase pain and stress in specific areas more than others. In an Aquatic Therapy environment, the surrounding hydrostatic pressure increases stability around the joints. This added support allows our patients to exercise the areas contributing to their imbalances without the fear of falling and further increasing their risk of injury.
Balance Training- As we age, our reflexes slow down making it difficult to adapt to walking on uneven ground or react to sudden movements around us. Med Center Therapy provides our patients with an environment of increased resistance around their body to help improve balance and increase stability in a setting that safely allows for self-correction.
Strength Training- Aquatic Therapy is wonderful for strengthening the body because the water’s natural resistance keeps the muscles constantly stimulated and engaged which helps restore both strength and endurance. The analgesic effects of warm saltwater supports the body and reduces stress to the joints so you can strengthen and condition your muscles without irritating existing pains.
Walking & Moving Programs- Many people are surprised when they enter the pool and find they can do a lot of the things that they aren’t able to do on land. Depending on your condition, we can use our saltwater pools to perform exercises for stability and walking that are less physically demanding than land exercises. Our licensed therapists here at Med Center Therapy ultimately aim to restore lost or diminished function so our patients may regain confidence, independence, and the ability to return to their everyday activities without fear of serious injury.
Education Is Therapy
The most important part of treating a balance disorder is understanding your diagnosis, the cause of the problem, and how to manage it. That’s why we place great emphasis on patient education and coordination of care with your referring physician.
THREE ADDITIONAL AND IMPORTANT TREATMENT OPTIONS:
- Reduce Fall Risk. Your physical therapist will assess problem footwear and hazards in your home that increase your risk of balance problems or falling. Household hazards include loose rugs, poor lighting, unrestrained pets, or other possible obstacles.
- Reduce Fear of Falling. By addressing specific problems that are found during the examination, your physical therapist will help you regain confidence in your balance and your ability to move freely, and perform daily activities. As you build confidence in your balance and physical ability, you will be better able to enjoy your normal daily activities.
- Care Collaboration. Working in collaboration with your medical doctor, allows you to get two expert opinions and assessments of your condition. Together, we can better address your balance disorders and decrease your fear of falling and fall risks.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a vestibular condition where small particles, called otoliths, which monitor vertical and horizontal head movements become dislodged. These particles can enter looped structures of the inner ear, the semicircular canals, which are responsible for detecting rotational head movement. The presence of these otoliths in the semicircular canals can cause normal head movements to trigger exaggerated sensations of spinning that lead to dizziness for those suffering from BPPV.
When Should You Seek Help?
Most people don’t think about keeping their balance in shape until it is too late and they suffer a harsh fall. The good news is that most falls can easily be prevented, simply by the regular exercising of your balance system. At Med Center Therapy, we are dedicated to improving movements, restoring function, and increasing the safety of our patients. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, talk to your doctor, and Contact Us today to schedule your consultation with one of our Physical Therapists:
Some questions to ask yourself would be…
- Do I feel unsteady?
- Do I feel as if the room is spinning around me?
- Do I feel as if I’m moving when I know I’m sitting or standing still?
- Do I lose my balance and fall?
- Do I feel as if I’m falling?
- Do I feel lightheaded or as if I might faint?
- Do I have blurred vision?
- Do I ever feel disoriented–losing my sense of time or location?
- Do I ever need a cane or walker when I walk around the house or community?
Improve Your Balance, Improve Your Life
Our dedicated Physical Therapists here at Med Center Therapy understand the impact that pain, loss of balance, and fear of falling can have on your everyday life. That is why our facility fosters an environment to improve balance, regain strength, and restore independence in a safe and empowering atmosphere. Don’t let fear or procrastination hold you back any longer. Call Med Center Therapy today to schedule your evaluation, and we will create an individualized treatment plan to improve your balance and help you get back to enjoying a higher quality life.