For us to feel balanced we rely on information from three sources: vision, muscles and joints together with the vestibular organs in the inner ears. Receiving accurate information from these about how we relate to the surrounding environment makes it possible for us to switch on the muscles that control our eyes, head, neck, trunk and legs so that we stay upright and have clear vision when we are moving. A person can become very disorientated if the sensory input from one of these sources conflict.
Balance problems are particularly distressing for the individual suffering them. It is not just the effect of the symptoms but worrying about when the symptoms may appear can drastically affect someone’s confidence in their ability to carry out daily activities.
There are three systems in the body that are especially important for balance:
1. Information the body gets from the muscles, joints and skin tell us where our body parts are both in relation to each other and in relation to the supporting surface
2. The vestibular system is a 3-dimensional spirit level which orientates us in the environment and gives the brain information about whether the head is moving up or down or from side to side
3. We rely on our vision. We use our eyes to tell us about our surroundings and objects in our way. Our eyes stay steady whilst our head is moving.
Normally we don’t think about our balance. However, when balance is impaired we often have to think very carefully about doing things we would normally just do without any thought.
At heads up! we see with people who have balance problems everyday and it is incredible to see how the introduction of simple techniques can improve our patients lives.