Balance can be defined as mental stability or emotional stability. In the field of physical therapy balance is defined as a state of bodily equilibrium where the body’s center of gravity is within the base of support. Many complex systems must function correctly and interact precisely to remain upright. If any portion of this matrix falters, a fall or near fall may result. Resulting injuries can be slight or devastating. In an effort to avoid such falls or injury a physical therapist would evaluate certain areas crucial to this integrated system.
The three areas involved would be vision, vestibular and proprioception. These three work together in unison to maintain balance. Sometimes one system will become weak and the other systems will need to strengthen to compensate. Sometimes one system begins to override leaving the others to weaken. But for proper function all three must be active. Vision is crucial to observe the environment. The vestibular system is important for detection of head orientation and movement. And proprioception is needed to detect body position particularly in the feet and legs.
Balance is a skill. Recall pictures of young children learning to walk. They continually practice until they are successful. Also recall this requires time to finely adjust the movements until it is correctly executed. Practice is an important component to improvement. A daily, gradual commitment to practice.
The body is truly amazing in maintaining physical balance or equilibrium. The same should be said of our mental, emotional and spiritual health.
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