Our body’s balance relies on many systems working together to create stability. Good balance is obtained through correct sensory information, the brains proper processing of that information, and the muscles response to the input of data. Three systems work together to formulate our sensory information:
Visual System: Your vision tells your brain where your body is in relationship to the horizon and what your environment is around you. This takes place whether you are moving or stationary.
Somatosensory System: Your brain is informed about the positioning of your body through special sensors that are sensitive to pressure, stretch, touch, and vibrations in your muscles, joints, tendons, and skin.
Vestibular System: Your inner ear contains organs that tell the brain about your head position and movement that helps keep you balanced. These organs help keep your eyes focused during head movement as well. The inner ear tells the brain when you are moving in a straight line (such as traveling in a car) or vertical (such as in an elevator) and can sense the positioning of your head when it is upright or tilted.
All of these systems send information about the body’s current state to the brain stem. The brain stem also receives information from other portions of the brain, such as previous experiences that affect your sense of balance and uses the information to control your overall balance. As the brain stem receives the information from the various systems throughout your body it sends messages to the moving parts of the body, such as arms and legs, to help you keep your balance as you are moving.
For example, in the dark, when the information from your eyes is reduced or might not be accurate, your brain will use more information from your legs and your inner ear. If you are walking on a sandy beach during the day, the information coming from your legs and feet will be less reliable and your brain will use information from your visual and vestibular systems more.
– (American Physical Therapy Association, Shannon L. Hoffman, PT, DPT)
If you often feel dizzy, out of balance, or have fallen, a physical therapist can help to determine how well these systems are working to help you keep your balance. The physical therapist can provide instruction on specific exercise that can address any issues and help improve your body’s use of all the systems together.
Memorial Hospital’s Therapy and Sports Rehab Center offers balance therapy rehab. We utilize specialized equipment and procedures to improve your balance performance. If you are struggling with your balance ask your primary provider for a referral to Memorial’s Rehab Center. We look forward to serving you.