- The Foundation For Peripheral Neuropathy - https://www.foundationforpn.org -

5 Tips for Maintaining Good Balance & Preventing Falls

Falling is no laughing matter. Patients with Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, lower extremity weakness, sensory loss, and substantial vision loss have a higher risk of falling. Good balance requires reliable sensory input from an individual’s vision, vestibular system (the balance system of the inner ear), and proprioceptors (sensors of position and movement in the feet and legs). Balance is also dependent on good muscle strength and joint mobility. A sedentary lifestyle and arthritis or diseases of the bones and muscles can compromise strength and mobility.

Most people are familiar with the problems associated with the aging of senses such as vision and hearing. However, the vestibular (inner ear) system can also begin to function poorly with age. The vestibular system is a complex structure of fluid-filled tubes and chambers that constitutes part of the inner ear. Specialized nerve endings inside these structures detect the position and movement of the head and also detect the direction of gravity. The signals sent from the nerves of the vestibular system are critically important to the brain’s ability to control balance in standing and walking, and to control certain types of reflexive eye movements that make it possible to see clearly while walking or running.

Because balance is a complex function, there may be no single identifiable cause of a fall. Symptoms of dizziness and/or vertigo can have a variety of causes: vestibular disorders (inner ear), central nervous system disorders (such as stroke), cardiac problems (including low or high blood pressure), low blood sugar, medication side effects or interactions between drugs, or an inadequate or poorly balanced diet. A thorough evaluation by a physician is usually necessary to help sort out possible causes of a fall. The trouble in any one system may not be severe, but the combined effects may cause a serious problem with balance.

The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce the risk of falls:

 

Source: Stephanie Stephens; Neurology Now