What is a Balance Dysfunction?

There are many reasons why an individual’s balance system may become dysfunctional or impaired in some manner. Of course, the obvious reason it is so important to address this issue is that, without a properly functioning balance system, an individual is at a much greater risk of falling.

In turn, a fall can lead to further injuries, or in a worst-case scenario, even death. In this post, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of a compromised balance system, how to avoid falling during the recovery process, and discuss how beneficial it can be to receive physical therapy for balance disorders.

Symptoms of Balance Dysfunction

People who experience problems with their balance can report a variety of symptoms. Some individuals may feel as if they are going to faint. Others may experience a sensation of motion, where they or the surrounding area is spinning (vertigo).

Still, others report a sense of dizziness. Some people may lose their sense of balance altogether at times, putting them at significant risk of falling.

Illnesses Associated with Balance Issues

Any person who experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above should consult with their physician to determine the cause of their balance issues. The list of possible illnesses that could cause a compromised balance system is many, including an inner ear issue, head injury, severe cervical arthritis, blood pressure issues, certain medications, and many more possible reasons.

This is why an individual must have a thorough examination by a medical professional since the underlying cause(s) of a person’s balance issues will determine their treatment protocol.

Behavioral Modification 

Depending upon the reason(s) for someone’s balance issues, a physician may prescribe medications or physical therapy as part of a treatment plan. During the recovery period, individuals may still feel unsteady while on their feet, leaving them at continued risk for a fall. During this phase, patients need to address some of the common pitfalls around the home that exacerbate their risk of falling.

Removing rugs and other paraphernalia from the floors in a patient’s living spaces can help reduce their risk of falling. Installing handrails/grab bars in key areas, such as the shower/bathtub, staircases, and ramps can provide extra support for those with balance or equilibrium issues.

Adequate lighting is also essential for individuals to spot items in their way or on the floor. Homeowners should either install additional light fixtures in dark areas of the home or at least increase the bulb wattage in those areas, if possible.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Anyone suffering from balance issues should not suffer in silence or assume their balance issues will resolve on their own. Without proper treatment, people suffering from a balance problem will likely find that their condition worsens over time rather than improve.

The time-honored adage, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” is very much true in relation to balance issues. Over time, a person’s brain may “forget” how to interpret balance-related signals from the body, and the person will continue to struggle.

Fortunately, the human brain is also well known for responding well to treatment through its neuroplastic qualities. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to undergo significant changes in response to new information and sensory development. Because of the brain’s remarkable ability to rewire itself, physical therapists can help retrain a patient’s brain properly to process balance signals coming from the body.

If you are struggling with a balance issue and can use a physical therapist in NEPA, we can help! Contact us at Cawley Physical Therapy at 570-208-2787 or email us at cawleyptfrank@gmail.com for more information.