When I hear the word “balance,” I often think of work/life balance. Am I spending too much time working and not enough time living? Are the activities that matter most to me getting my attention? Am I finding time to relax, eat right, and sleep well? Balance is a matter of time management, priority focus, and self-discipline, right?
Not always. In fact, this post is about physical balance, another vital part of well-being.
A few months ago, I woke up with vertigo. I’ve been told this is often how it happens – we just wake up one day with a sense of spin in our heads, making it feel like the room is moving. We cannot hold our eyes still until the perceived spin stops. Never a fun feeling. Although it seems to be more of a problem as people age, it affects all ages and is common.
Oh, that upside down feeling! Ugh!
It turns out, as you may know, we each have small crystals that form in our ears and usually get absorbed in a gel. But when that doesn’t happen for some reason, they float. They rock back and forth before settling down. As we change our head position, we feel a spin, called vertigo. It can be discouraging and slow us down. If you’ve suffered with vertigo, you know what I mean.
For help, I made an appointment with a local physical therapy group at PPT – Professional Physical Therapists. Renee helped me with the non-invasive Epley Maneuver. My vertigo has been relieved and I am so grateful!
PPT Professional Physical Therapy Associates
Here’s an explanation on this condition, called BPPV, from Dr. Scott Sanders, a fellow Purdue University alum:
While at the physical therapists’ office, I am also learning balance exercises. Many of us realize our balance changes as we age. What I didn’t know is I can take steps to improve balance and to prevent falls. That is good news.
I am learning exercises and making some lifestyle changes, like walking with my toes up at the beginning of each step, to prevent trips. I do like traveling, but trips are no fun when they send you crashing to the ground.
Here is a good article related to balance. I want to share it with you, if you’d like additional information: Age-related Imbalance Can Be Treated
In case you cannot access the article, I’ll share the text at the end of this post. The article was on Linkedin and is written by Dr. Scott K. Sanders, Neuro-ophthalmologist, and Stephanie Ford, PT, at BalanceMD in Indianapolis and Lafayette, Indiana. They share some good information on maintaining our balance in our later years. If you have aging parents or friends, and/or if you’ve noticed you feel a bit wobbly at times, this is for you. The good news is we can strengthen our balance.
Also, I’ve included a link to an interesting video that gives even more perspective on balance, again for those interested in further information. It is amazing how the body works!
Click here to watch the brief Balance Overview video: Balance: Overview
Join me in becoming pro-active with maintaining balance ourselves or encouraging loved ones a generation ahead of us to do the same. It is valuable to build understanding of our bodies and the changes as we age. We can find hope and strength in seeking to understand our issues and options for improvement. Understanding helps me push through the fear of unfamiliar territory. I hope this encourages you, too.
Stay balanced and charming, friends! And thanks for subscribing using the buttons below.
This post is to offer information only and should not be viewed as medical advice. Please consult your health professionals.
Age-related Imbalance Can Be Treated
By Dr. Scott K. Sanders, Neuro-ophthalmologist and Stephanie Ford, PT
While balance is not going to be the same for someone in their 70s as it was in their 30s, that doesn’t mean dizziness or imbalance have to be accepted as a normal part of aging. Just as muscle strength and flexibility diminish with age, the three main sensory systems associated with balance (proprioception, vision and vestibular) diminish as well. Changes in any or all of these sensory systems can add up to a significant problem with balance. However, similar to muscle strength, the function of these systems and the brain’s ability to use these systems in cooperation, can improve with practice and exercise. This is where a specialized form of physical therapy (PT) known as vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) comes into play. We often tell our patients we are “strengthening” their balance system with vestibular system exercises just like we strengthen muscles through exercise. However, the exercises necessary to accomplish improved balance just happen to be quite different, focusing on the sensory part of balance.
Dizziness and imbalance can result from a variety of or combinations of factors. Any condition that leads to damage of the vestibular system, such as vestibular neuritis, Meniere’s disease, or vestibular schwannoma, can result in dizziness and/or imbalance. Those with peripheral neuropathy and/or vision loss can suffer with imbalance as well. But many with imbalance have normal vestibular function, intact proprioception and vision, yet are still off balance. These patients may be suffering from presbyastasis or “dysequilibrium of aging”. Presbyastasis is a complex condition in which age-related physiologic changes occur, none of which would necessarily be symptomatic on their own, but the combination of changes results in imbalance and an increased risk of falling. When those with presbyastasis begin to feel off balance or fall, they may limit their activities due to a fear of falling and then begin a vicious cycle, eventually becoming debilitated due to inactivity.
Today, we are seeing more and more older adults trying to stay active and have a good quality of life as they age. Expecting dizziness or imbalance as inevitable or untreatable may limit confidence in balance and overall quality of life. Community exercise classes that focus on balance, such as Tai Chi, can be quite helpful. But the most targeted and effective approach is VRT with a qualified and experienced PT, in which the therapist performs a comprehensive balance assessment to determine which of many potential factors are contributing to an individual’s imbalance. Then, an individualized plan of care is developed and implemented to reduce the risk and fear of falling. The exercises are easy to do at home and make a large impact on balance, confidence and quality of life.
BalanceMD is a specialty medical clinic designed to help all patients suffering from dizziness, vertigo and imbalance. For further information or to schedule an appointment, click here to go to our website, http://www.BalanceMD.net, or call toll free 888-888-DIZZY (3499).