Normal balance requires the integration of three sensory systems: visual, vestibular (found in the inner ear), and somatosensory (sensations from the skin, muscles, tendons, and joints) – in addition to muscle strength. When these systems are impaired, individuals may experience episodes of spinning, light headedness, trouble focusing their eyes, and/or poor balance or falls.
Balance may be affected by disturbances of strength in the trunk or legs, sensation deficits, or difficulties with coordination. Multiple systems may be affected. A detailed history and neurological examination may help detect the affected area. Balance may be impaired after a focal event such as a stroke or may develop during the course of a neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease. Medications and infections of the brain or inner ear may also contribute to balance difficulties.
Aging may also affect balance. Approximately 40% of people older than age 65 suffer...
References and Readings
- Ackley, S., Newell Decker, T., & Limb, C. J. (2007). An essential guide to hearing and balance disorders. Psychology Press.Google Scholar