Vestibular and balance training helps keep seniors upright

As we age, our ability to stay upright and steady can start to degrade putting people at greater risk for slips and falls. Vestibular and balance training can help regain this sense of steadiness. Because the entire body must coordinate to stay balanced, there are a wide variety of causes that can contribute to a lack of stability. It is important to understand the two main components of vestibular and balance training and how it can help keep seniors upright.

Gait assessment

A therapist will perform a full gait assessment to determine if there are any physical problems that are contributing to your unsteadiness. Your gait is the foot placement and pace of your normal walk. The physical therapist is able to see if ankle or hip problems, muscle weakness or poor posture are causing a loss of balance. Once identified, exercises to increase strength and flexibility can be prescribed to help recover your stability. But what if your physical symptoms are being eased and you still experience a loss of balance?

Vestibular assessment

Your eyes, inner ears and brain are part of the vestibular system that helps you sense and interpret balance. The physical therapist may want to track eye movements or perform a Dix-Hallpike test which will position the head in different ways to monitor symptoms. If your joints and muscles function well, then vertigo may be the cause of your loss of balance. Vertigo is a feeling of intense dizziness with a sense of movement and can be caused by:

  • Small crystals in the inner ear
  • Side effects from medications
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Tumors
  • Stroke

The most common cause of vertigo is inner-ear issues. Often, specific head movement exercises are prescribed to reduce the symptoms of vertigo like the Epley maneuver or Cawthorne head exercises. Together, with physical exercises, vestibular and balance training can help keep seniors on their feet.

It can be incredibly frustrating to experience a loss of balance and feel like you are unable to accomplish your daily routine. Fortunately, physical therapy can be a big help in getting the world to stop spinning. If you have experienced a loss of steadiness and are interested in improving your stability with vestibular and balance training, contact Continuum Wellness today to set up your initial assessment.