Balance & Vestibular Therapy
Bad falls are a constant worry for seniors and others who have physical challenges. And those worries aren’t unfounded. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and serious health problems in the U.S.
Improving your walking skills — technically known as your “gait” — and your balance are interrelated challenges. At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers we help you master these skills to decrease your risk of injury, while at the same time increasing your confidence and independence.
What are the benefits of balance and gait training?
Balance and gait are inextricably linked because they tend to impact one another. Even if you don’t think you’re in danger of falling over, that “running out of steam” while walking that you’re attributing to aging muscles could be something else. The problem might actually be slowing reflexes, which make moving around seem more strenuous than it is. By the same token, poor posture and gait can throw off those reflexes.
In fact, the balance and gait systems both rely to some extent on a complex number of body systems that include the inner ear, the eyes, the joint-muscle-nerve system, and of course cognitive functions. Therapy that improves gait and balance works with all of these systems to keep them functioning in harmony.
Gait and balance training has a range of benefits, with avoiding injuries being at the top of the list. Beyond lessening your chances of falling or feeling dizzy, you’re also more likely to feel confident with your footing. In addition, those aches and pains from poor posture are likely to decrease as well.
What does balance and gait training entail?
First, we’ll evaluate your gait to determine potential problems with strength and posture. Simple movements to test balance are also part of the assessment. Together, these basic evaluations point us in the direction of what to focus on in terms of therapy.
Hip and ankle weakness often leads to balance problems, as does poor posture. Strength and flexibility movements can help counteract these problems. These are often as simple as leg lifts while seated in a chair, or “knee marching.” We may also practice standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, or tracking the movement of your thumb with your eyes as you move it in various positions.
At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, our therapists realize how important balance and walking is for independent living, as well as for work activities, exercise, sports and enjoying life in general.
That’s why we provide a range of programs and therapies to evaluate and treat balance disorders:
How does the vestibular system work?
The vestibular system is a main contributor to physical balance. Located in the inner ear, the system senses motion when small hairs, called cilia, are moved by microscopic calcium crystals. When we sit, stand, move, or experience motions (such as in a car) the crystals move the hairs. The brain receives the signals from the hairs, along with information from the eyes and your sense of touch to interpret motion, equilibrium, and orientation in space.
In order to understand how Vestibular Rehabilitation works and the underlying corrective mechanisms, it is important to remember that the primary role of the vestibular system is to tell the brain where the head is in space. Quite simply, the vestibular system is our internal reference telling the brain how our head is orientated - up, down, tilt, etc. The visual and somatosensory (touch, pressure, pain) systems, on the other hand, are external references, providing our brain with information about the movement and stability of the world around us. Working together and when the systems agree, it is the integration of these sensory modalities that provides us with normal equilibrium.
How vestibular rehabilitation can help you?
Vestibular Rehabilitation is a form of Balance Retraining Therapy. It has emerged over the past several years as an alternative treatment for patients with chronic non-resolved motion intolerance, visual sensitivity, and imbalance problems. At FYZICAL, we have a comprehensive balance program that includes assessment and evaluation programs, balance retraining, and vestibular rehabilitation. With balance retraining and vestibular rehabilitation, our goal is to improve balance function and visual motor control, increase general activity levels, and help your body compensate for inner ear disorders. We utilize a state-of-the-art balance machine and our balance therapy programs have a 99% balance improvement success rate.
Who could Benefit
Ready to “balance” your life again?
With our dedicated team of physical therapists behind you, you’ll regain confidence in navigating challenging terrain and learning how to avoid dizzy spells. You may even be able to leave that cane or walker behind!