According to the CDC over 1/3 of Adults 65 and older fall each year. The cost associated with falls is expected to reach $67.7 BILLION by 2020. Balance problems can affect people of all ages, not just older adults. These numbers are hard to ignore! Most falls can be associated with inadequate balance. This is more than “just being clumsy!” The good news is that PT can help!! The components of balance can be “strengthened” or improved, just like muscle strength can be improved.
There are 3 components that contribute to balance:
1. Visual System: Vision is a huge part of balance. When vision is compromised balance can also be affected. Exercises can help strengthen other systems to decrease reliance on visual system. Vision helps detect or position orients us to the world around us. Activity: Try closing your eyes while standing and see if you feel as stable! The body isn’t getting information from the visual system making it harder to balance.
2. Vestibular System: Part of the inner ear. There is a series of canals in the inner ear that help detect motion. The system can sometimes go into “overdrive” and detects movement even when there isn’t any. This can sometimes lead to vertigo symptoms (P.S. PT can help with that also!).
3. Musculoskeletal system: Special receptors in the body’s joints send information to the brain regarding the body’s position in space and the joints in relation to other body parts. Other receptors can also provide information about what kind of surface you are standing on. Activity: Try standing on a folded up yoga mat or bath towel and try balancing. The body doesn’t get accurate information between the receptors, making it harder to balance!
These 3 components work closely together and if one is compromised it can affect overall balance.
There are also 2 different types of balance:
1. Static Balance: Ability to maintain upright position when stationary or not moving. Such as being able to sit or stand without falling over. Examples of static balance exercises include single leg stance or tandem stance.
2. Dynamic Balance: Ability to maintain upright position while moving or changing positions. Such as getting out of a chair without falling over. Examples include walking heel to toe, stand while moving head or extremities, or standing on an uneven surface.
We are all guilty of clumsy moments occasionally (some of us more than others!), but when those trips turn into falls. and those falls turn into injuries, or they start to happen more often, that’s when it becomes a problem. If you are having problems with your balance or want more information on how PT can benefit you check out our website at
www.physicaltherapyptc.com or give us a call at 1-888-THERAPY!
Rebecca Varoga, PT, DPT
Isanti Physical Therapy
PTC_therapy October 3rd, 2018
Posted In: General