Mark your Calendars! Balance Awareness Week is upon us. This year’s (2020) balance week is Sept 13-19. We all know that 2020 has been a doozy and can knock us left, right, and down, but with proper training and knowledge, we won’t FALL (in hopefully more than one way)!
Balance related disorders affect more than 69 million Americans. That’s nearly 1 in 5 people who suffer from vestibular dysfunction (source VEDA). Vestibular and balance week is around to address these concerns and have it be a topic of conversation.
Have you ever heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” I truly believe there is a fact in that statement, but my hope is that you will get to do both! A lot of my patients come from self-referrals or from someone/a friend who has sent them. Dizziness is the number one complaint at the doctor’s office, but there are so many factors that can cause dizziness sometimes it is overwhelming or over-looked. A lot of my patients get to the clinic for treatment because the right person heard their complaints and sent them to physical therapy. The more we get talking about vestibular and balance disorders, the more people who can get helped. Who knows if you will be that person that is the “who you know” and can help change someone’s life!
Now onto “what you know”, so maybe someday soon you can be the “who you know”.
There are 3 major systems that affect our balance. One is what we see (vision), 2nd is what we feel with our feet (proprioception) and 3rd is our vestibular system (inner ear). Our brains process all this information in milliseconds to keep us upright and moving properly. If even one system is off a little, it can cause us symptoms or issues. As our body ages, we tend to not move as quickly or in as many different directions causing our vestibular system to not be at its peak.
Think of a kid on the jungle gym, they are constantly moving, turning their head upside down, climbing up slides, and swinging. In all of these motions, their systems work simultaneously, and the vestibular system thrives. It is important to move and try to improve/maintain our balance.
We are constantly using our balance/vestibular systems. If something makes them not function properly it is difficult to walk, talk, and think. Because it is internal in our brain and our inner ear, it is sometimes hard for others to see when someone is struggling with this dysfunction. People with severe balance impairments may instead try to stay home as to not stagger/veer or appear drunk. This in turn makes them more sedentary and more at risk for falls.
I could go on and on about the vestibular system and balance. But really what you want to know is what can you do!
- Talk about your symptoms with someone, anyone, everyone who will listen. Not just your doctor.
- Reach out to a physical therapy clinic that specializes in vestibular disorders. Apex has many therapists trained in balance issues and specialties such as vestibular certificate and BIG program (more specific to Parkinson’s).
- Practice your balance throughout the day. Stand on one leg while you are doing the dishes, put both feet together when at the grocery store and waiting in line. Close your eyes while you are brushing your teeth. *Whatever you do, make sure you are safe and have someone near you to avoid risk of falling.*
- Use #vestibular on your social media accounts to raise awareness
- Contact Apex Physical Therapy in the month of September for a FREE balance screening with one of our therapists. 701-364-2739
During this weird and crazy year, with social distancing, less outings, and less movement, it is even more important to get moving and working on your vestibular system! COVID 19 patients have presented with balance disorders after surviving the virus and have found physical therapy to beneficial in their healing journey! Don’t wait until it is too late and work your balance everyday!