Having good balance is essential, giving you the confidence and control you need to navigate the world around you. It enables you to control your body’s position, whether moving or standing still. Balance also assists you in managing everyday motions like getting up from a seated position, climbing stairs, and bending over.
Your balance ability can be affected by age or any number of medical conditions. Unlike injuries like bruises or scrapes, a problem with your balance isn’t visible, making it harder to detect when something is off. Issues can also develop gradually. The effects can be so subtle that individuals are unaware their abilities have changed until there is significant impact.
While diagnosing the cause of your balance issue requires a health professional’s knowledge and insight, you should be aware of the signs that may point to a balance issue.
How Do I Know My Balance Is Off?
Balance problems may be caused by vestibular disorders, hearing loss, tinnitus or other conditions that affect the balance system. Resources, such as this list of organizations from BC Balance and Dizziness, provide further information around common signs of affected balance. Experiencing just one of the following indicators can impact your ability to move through your life with confidence.
1.Do you often lose your balance?
An increase in how often you lose your balance when walking can signal that your balance ability isn’t where it should be. You may notice that you feel imbalanced as you move around, culminating in sensations you are about to fall. This may be accompanied by feelings of dizziness or fuzziness, and even slower reaction times.
2. Do you feel unsteady?
Feeling unsure about your ability to stand steadily can be a sign of a balance problem. This can occur either when you are in motion or stationary, manifesting as a sense of uncertainty about taking the next step or your ability to hold your position.
Stairs can pose a particular challenge, making you grip the handrail for support as you move. You may also focus on placing your feet on the next step instead of having the confidence in your body’s ability to move easily.
You may or may not show outward signs of this unsteadiness: swaying or jerky motions to correct your balance. These feelings may intensify when the lights are out.
3. Do you feel like your body is in motion when you’re standing still?
This feeling can occur when you are standing or sitting. You know you’re stationary, but your mind is convinced you are moving. Occasionally, you may have this same sensation as you are walking: it will feel as if the ground is moving under your feet. Others have compared this sensation to walking on a moving vehicle like a bus or the subway. This can be disconcerting!
4. Does the room feel like it’s spinning?
Even if this occurs infrequently, head spins or spinning sensations can be a sign of a balance issue. It may come on suddenly, especially when you are standing up or bending over. These sensations can feel overpowering, making you lose your balance as your body tries to accommodate what it’s feeling.
Keep an eye out for when these sensations occur. Common culprits are turning your head or sudden movements. Spinning feelings can also intensify or worsen when you are reading or watching television.
5. Is your vision blurred?
Your vision provides key information to help maintain your balance. Blurry vision can affect your ability to walk easily and can contribute to feelings of unsteadiness. This may occur more frequently in visually complex environments, such as grocery stores or shopping malls. Your vision may be challenged by processing busy displays and in turn, this may affect your ability to balance your body within this space. Any vision changes should be reported to your health professionals.
Causes of Balance Issues
A number of factors can influence your balance ability. Aging affects the ability to maintain equilibrium and lowers reflex time, but so can different medications or medical conditions.
Concussions and other head injuries can also affect your balance. People with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) commonly report problems with balance, generally more frequently than those without TBI.
Make an Appointment for Follow-up
If you are feeling some of the signs outlined above and are concerned that your balance is off, make an appointment with your physician. They will assess your history and what you are currently experiencing to offer some information about the next steps forward.
A past mild to moderate TBI could be affecting your balance. People who have a chronic balance deficit caused by mild to moderate traumatic brain injury who can perform physical therapy are the ideal candidates for treatment with the Heuro Program.
This unique, non-invasive treatment program pairs the Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS™) Device with physical therapy for a thorough treatment plan to quickly help you maximize your potential to improve balance.