Balance Your Life: Falls Prevention and Vertigo Management
Understanding Balance and Vertigo
Balance is defined as the ability to maintain an upright posture during normal activities. The ability to maintain balance is a complex process. When the components of this process do not communicate with each other through connections in the brain, poor balance will result.
Vertigo is a feeling of unsteadiness, during activities or at rest. It is the sensation of the room spinning, rocking side to side and light headedness.
Since balance is a complex process, there are many things that can lead to a balance disorder. Causes may be, but are not limited to, stroke, neuropathy, inner ear dysfunction, head injury, arthritis, dizziness/vertigo, and medication influences.
Why Is Balance Important?
Balance plays a role in most everyday activities. Individuals with balance problems such as vertigo may have difficulty with even the smallest tasks, such as:
- Ascending/Descending stairs
Balance disorders can increase the risk of falling, shorten attention spans, disrupt normal patterns of sleep, and cause fatigue.
What Is Balance Your Life and How Can It Help You?
Balance Your Life is a program offered at MyMichigan Health which focuses on preventing balance disorders from affecting individuals’ independence. If you have experienced a recent fall, feel unsteady on your feet, have spells of dizziness or reasons to believe you might have a balance disorder, consult your physician who may refer you for evaluation and therapy.
Physical and occupational therapy evaluations use hands-on approaches to discover the cause of unsteadiness to help keep you doing the activities you enjoy without the concern of falling.
Once a therapist has reviewed your complete medical history and provided a thorough examination, he or she will work with your physician to design an individualized program to address your personal problem areas. This personalized plan will initially include exercises in the clinic with the end goal of providing a program you can do on your own.
Four things you can do now to improve your balance:
- Begin a regular exercise program such as walking or Tai Chi.
- Ask your health care provider to review your medications.
- Have your vision and hearing check regularly.
- Make your home safer, with less obstacles and better lighting.
When your physician recommends an evaluation for falls and balance therapy, contact the Rehabilitation Services department in your area.
For a referral to a physical therapist or occupational therapist who specializes in the Balance Your Life program, contact your primary care provider.
MyMichigan Health has recently installed the SMART Equitest Balance Master, a comprehensive system used to evaluate patients for the diagnosis and treatment of balance disorders.