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.

Balance & Mobility Articles

Our best balance boosters

Poor balance is a common cause of falls, which send millions of people in the United States to emergency departments each year with broken hips and head injuries. Many strategies can improve balance, such as physical therapy, muscle strengthening, and tai chi or yoga. Vision is key to balance, so it’s important to get a comprehensive eye exam. A cane or a walker can complement balance and give a person more stability. It’s best to get measured for such a device and then get physical therapy to learn how to use it. More »

Knee buckling raises the risk of falls

Knee buckling is common in people with knee pain and knee osteoarthritis and raises the risk of falls and injuries. Strengthening the quadriceps muscles and doing balance exercises may help improve knee stability and reduce buckling.  More »

The new generation of wearable medical alert systems

Wearable medical alert systems summon emergency help with the touch of a button. They are becoming more popular now that many older adults are comfortable using electronic technology. Basic options work only within range of a base unit kept in the home. Other options include cellular technology that works anywhere and the ability to detect if the wearer has fallen. When choosing an alert system company, one should look for a deal with no long-term contracts, low activation fees, no cancellation fees, discounts for add-on services, free replacement for equipment that’s not working, and operators available 24 hours a day. (Locked) More »

Why you fall-and what you can do about it

Exercise to develop strong, powerful core muscles is the best way to prevent falls. Pain control, foot and vision care, choosing medications that don’t interfere with balance, and removing hazards in the home are also important. (Locked) More »