Balance is the interaction of three systems: the visual, vestibular, and the proprioceptive system.
Visual System – Your eyes play a significant role in balance. Giving you a picture of where you are in relation to things surrounding you. There are sensory receptors in your retina called rods and cones. Rods help vision in low light situations and cones help with color. These are associated with balance because when light hits the rods and cones, impulses are sent to your brain that give you cues on how you are oriented relative to objects around you.
Vestibular System – An organ located in the inner ear, is responsible for maintaining general equilibrium. The receptors in the vestibular system provide information that lets you sense forward and backward, as well as upward and downward movement and to detect rotation of the head while keeping the eyes still. The vestibular system has direct control over the eyes so they can directly compensate for head movements. This is what connects the visual and vestibular systems together, about 20% of the nerve fibers in the eyes interact with the vestibular system.
Proprioceptive System – Muscles and joints. Proprioception is the process where the body can change muscle contraction in direct response to information regarding external forces, giving it the ability to sense the orientation of your body in your environment. A best example is how we can tell that an arm is raised above our head, even when our eyes are closed. Stretch receptors in your muscles keep track of your joint positions in your body.
These three systems that create your balance all work together to keep you mobile and functioning. Continuing to strengthen these systems can prevent injury and fall risk.
Test your balance today with your IPT therapist and see where you stand! (pun intended!). Ask about our balance test and receive balance exercises and tips to improve your overall balance health!
Studies have shown that if health care providers deliver screenings for fall risk that as many as 45,000 fewer falls can occur and over $442 million in expenses for said falls would drop.
In our Video Newsletter this month we will show you exercises for balance and how you can decrease your fall risk.