Lauren Fournier, PT, DPT
Imagine life without balance. Close your eyes and stand on one foot. It is hard is it not? Now imagine having that same disorienting feeling on two feet, and with your eyes open. Balance is something most of us take for granted. Our balance is automatically hardwired into our bodies at birth, evolving and adapting as we grow and age. Some of us are even able to perfect or master balance through exercise and practice. Think of all the crazy yoga poses people post on social media! If we do think of our balance, it is usually when we lose it.
While most people may not be familiar with the word “vestibular” (relating to your inner ear, brain, and sense of balance), many have likely experienced the awkward, sometimes even scary feeling, when we momentarily lose our balance. Maybe it is taking a wrong step or getting motion sickness aboard a jostling boat or that nauseating, head-spinning sensation after one too many alcoholic beverages. Eventually our balance returns, and life moves on. This is not the case for the over 69 million Americans who suffer from the mostly invisible and frequently debilitating symptoms of chronic imbalance associated with a vestibular disorder.
Whether it comes on gradually over time or suddenly, bouts of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea can make many of life’s more routine tasks virtually intolerable. That is why VeDA, the Vestibular Disorders Association, began Balance Awareness Week in 1997. Each year people from all over come together to uncover the mysteries of invisible balance disorders. If we are more aware, then we can better understand and be empathetic to those who need our support the most: our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. While many of these balance disorders are incurable, faster, and more accurate diagnosis, along with effective coping strategies, can greatly improve quality of life.
If you or someone you know is experiencing dizziness and/or imbalance, we here at FPTS are here to help get your life “rebalanced”!