The human balance system is a complex system which relies on a number of factors. When one or more of these factors is impaired, you become unsteady, you may feel dizzy and you may even feel like you are about to fall. Your physiotherapist and your GP can help you determine which factor(s) is impaired and how you can overcome your problem.
In order to feel balanced, your body receives information from:
- Your eyes (visual input)
- The crystals in your ears (vestibular input)
- Your skin, muscles and joints, particularly in your feet.
Your brain receives messages from these factors, analyses this information and sends messages back to the rest of your body to control your movement. If however you have problems with your vision, if you simply have an ear infection, or if you are diabetic and the sensation in your feet is not strong enough, you may feel unsteady. If one of the above factors are not working properly, the other factors have to compensate and coordinate with each other.
To aid your balance and your mobility, your physiotherapist will determine which part of your body is weak and could be strengthened further with specific exercises. You may also receive particular balance exercises to help improve your body’s ability to react quickly when you feel unsteady. There are many walking aids which helps improve mobility and balance, from zimmer frames to elbow crutches and walking sticks. Simple things such as ensuring suitable foot wear, removing rugs in the home or sticking down the corners and reducing clutter can have a huge impact on your balance and can prevent you from falling. You may even want to check the side effects of any medication you take just in case it is known to cause dizziness. It is advisable to speak to your GP if you have any concerns. These are just a few pointers to help you with managing your balance problems however specialist skills are required and are available to provide you with exercise, education and advice in order to improve your balance, increase your self-confidence and to reduce any fear of falling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!