September 13th to the 19th is Balance Awareness Week!! And if you are visiting our Boardwalk location for physiotherapy or massage therapy services, you will notice pink flamingos around the clinic. The flamingo is the mascot for balance and vestibular function.
I have a large task ahead of me as I start to shed light and raise awareness around balance deficits and what the word “vestibular” means. But it’s worth it – why? Because 1 in 5 people suffer from vestibular dysfunction. This means that 1 in 5 people have difficulty with balance, trouble reading, are unable to drive, experience frequent vertigo, require time off work and assistance with normal daily tasks, require a walker or cane to walk safely, are uncomfortable being left alone or are reliant on medication to suppress their symptoms. Even though there are no outward signs of injury or illness, this can be extremely debilitating! With the correct assessment and treatment, recovery is possible! That’s why I am so strongly advocating for the awareness and understanding of balance and vestibular dysfunction.
Try this: pick a point in the room to look at. Now without moving your eyes from that point, turn to your head to the left about an inch and then to the right about an inch. When your eyes stay focused on that point during your head movement this requires the vestibular system to coordinate a reflex that allows your eyes to fixate while your head moves.
This is an important reflex. This is an important topic. If you have trouble with balance, coordinating your arms and legs, difficulty reading or difficulty with mathematics and spatial awareness, frequent vertigo (the room spinning around you) or unsteadiness and unexplained falls, contact us today to set up a vestibular physiotherapy assessment.
Caitlinn Thompson, Registered Physiotherapist