Balance Therapy: An Individual Plan for Every Patient
Contrary to popular belief, age does not play a factor in one’s risk of falling. Problems with balance can affect people at all ages and stages of life – impacting one’s ability to work, drive, play sports and enjoy life. There are a number of factors that could hinder balance, including:
- Eye coordination
- Problems with the middle ear
- Ability to feel sensations through one’s feet
- Range of motion in ankles or hips
There are also a number of medications that can affect balance, including many common blood pressure medications. If the patient’s problems with balance are not medication-related, balance therapy may be able to help improve his/her stability and confidence.
There is no “prescribed” therapy for patients with balance issues. At Good Shepherd, we assess issues that are affecting a patient’s balance and then custom-design a program to meet the patient’s individual needs.
We begin by evaluating the patient to determine which balance components are impaired. Ocular testing will help us determine if symptoms stem from problems in the middle ear or another medical condition, in which case a physician referral may be necessary. During the evaluation process, we also use advanced technology to test:
- Range of motion and strength
- Sensory components that may be impaired
- Center of gravity and limits of stability (i.e. how far forward the patient can reach without falling, how fast the patient can turn his or her head)
After a thorough evaluation, the findings are used to develop an individualized program to treat the patient’s impairments. We may challenge patients under different lighting conditions (to simulate dawn and dusk), incorporate real-life tasks (such as throwing a baseball) and include dual-tasking (answering the phone while walking upstairs). Simulating real-life scenarios gives patients the practice and confidence they need to get “back to normal” faster.