Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Cleveland

Maintaining Balance in an
Upside Down World

Whether walking, sitting, lying down or jumping rope the internal mechanisms of our brain and muscles are working to keep us from harm. Maintaining balance is essential to both everyday living and once in a life time adventures. It is important in keeping us safe in our homes and able to enjoy all life has to offer.

When an individual falls bad things can happen. Maybe not the first or second time. Maybe not the third or fourth time, but there is always the possibility a catastrophic event such as a hip fracture could occur and change the life of that individual.
The systems of the body involved with maintaining balance are many and complex.

Primarily, the vision, sensation and vestibular (inner ear) systems help us to stay upright. There are also systems that allow the body to react both before and after an external force causes us to lose our balance. Research has shown the brain will reflexively contract certain muscles just because we see a hazard coming our way. Research has also shown the many ways we attempt to right ourselves after losing balance. Interestingly enough the small muscles of the ankle play a major role in controlling our entire body.

It is important to see your regular Physician if you feel your balance is not quite right. They can diagnosis a variety of medical conditions at fault. They also can prescribe medications and Physical Therapy as needed.

Physical Therapists have a number of tools to use in the assessment of an individual’s balance. We have in our tool box manual muscle testing, standardized balance assessments and larger pieces of equipment to get a clear picture of both an individual’s current balance status as well as their likelihood of falling in the near future. The best tests are the ones that incorporate all the systems of the body that effect balance. The Balance Master System is such a device that does that.

The Balance Master System is a tool that allows a Physical Therapist to evaluate how the brain and muscles are working together to maintain balance in a variety of situations. This information can then be turned into a specialized therapeutic program that meets the specific needs of the individual. Other balance tests that can be performed are the Berg Balance Scale, Timed Get up and Go Test and the Functional Reach Test.

Working on your balance is not something to be done for a few days and then forgotten. It is a life long pursuit. In order to facilitate that purpose a Physical Therapist also should develop a specialized exercise program that will work in your lifestyle. It is imperative that anyone who wants to affect their balance in a positive way do the right exercises for them. A comprehensive Physical Therapy evaluation can do just that.

After an evaluation, your Physical Therapist will be able to show you the exercises that will do the most good for the troubles you have. These exercises will target your legs and trunk mostly. There also will be exercises to enhance the communication between your brain and your muscles. Some will be done at home and some will need to be done under the direct supervision of your Physical Therapist.

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