Balance problems are extremely common, particularly in senior citizens. Falls are amongst the leading causes of fatality and non-fatal injuries in the elderly. Our balance depends mostly on the function of three systems. One: vision. Our eyes give us important information in reference to our orientation, position and movement relative to our environment. Two: proprioception. This is our positional sense. This provides information regarding our orientation relative to gravity. When a person leans, they should be able to feel the shift in pressure upon their feet against the floor. Similarly, there should be some detection of leaning in the muscles of the trunk. The vestibular system. This is the inner ear imbalance system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and equilibrium, particularly during motion. In general, if there is a weakness in one of these systems, the remaining two systems should compensate and allow the individual to maintain balance. Under most conditions, this is the case. If the weakness in one system is overwhelming, or if there's weakness in more than one system, imbalance may result. There are numerous other health, fitness, environmental factors that can contribute to balance disorders. The primary goal of the balance evaluation is to determine which of these systems is contributing to the imbalance and to determine if there is an underlying disorder that requires treatment. In nearly all cases, measures can be taken to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls and injury.
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