Balance & Mobility
Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that lets you stand or move without falling, or recover if you trip. Good balance requires the coordination of several parts of the body: the central nervous system, inner ear, eyes, muscles, bones, and joints. Problems with any one of these can affect balance. Medical conditions can also affect balance. These include:
· stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders of the central nervous system
· Meniere's disease and other conditions that originate in the inner ear, which can cause vertigo and dizziness
· cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, which distort vision
· weakness in major muscles, particularly the thighs, abdomen, and back
· nerve damage in the legs and feet (peripheral neuropathy) can affect the ability to sense the ground you're standing or walking on.
Other things can also influence balance, including:
· medications, including antidepressants, drugs for anxiety, pain medication, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and some heart and blood pressure medications.
· alcohol, which slows reaction time and affects judgment and coordination
A medical exam can identify conditions that may impair balance, and identify drugs that may have side effects that cause lightheadedness.
Improving muscle strength in the legs and the core can improve balance. So can exercises like Tai chi that increase flexibility.