Better balance: it is rocket science

January 30, 2008 9:08:56 AM PST
Nearly 90 million Americans will suffer from dizziness or balance problems at some time in their lives. When balance is impaired in some way, maintaining orientation is difficult. The person may experience the room "spinning," have difficulty getting up from a sitting or reclined position, and may not be able to walk without staggering or stumbling. Some typical symptoms of a balance disorder are:

  • A dizzy sensation or vertigo
  • Falling or having a feeling of falling
  • Lightheadedness or feeling woozy
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling disoriented
  • These symptoms may also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, faintness, changes in blood pressure and heart rate, fear, anxiety or even panic. Any of these symptoms can interfere with concentration and cause fatigue and depression. Symptoms may come and go over short periods of time or last for a longer period. Balance problems that persist can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

    CAUSES AND COMPLICATIONS: Balance and dizziness problems can be caused by infections, both viral and bacterial, head injury, disorders of blood circulation that affect the brain or inner ear, and certain medications; also, aging can change our balance system and result in balance difficulties. Illnesses, brain disorders or visual or skeletal systems, such as arthritis, can also cause balance problems. Balance and dizziness problems can become a serious issue for the elderly, in particular, as these problems can contribute to falls and fall injuries. Each year, more than one in three people age 65 or older fall. Falls are the leading injury-related cause of death for adults over age 75.

    SPACE AGE TECHNOLOGY: Scottsdale Health Care's Balance and Mobility Program in takes a high tech approach to the issues of balance and dizziness in patients of all ages. The program incorporates the NeuroCom Balance Manager, a device originally developed by NASA scientists to measure and evaluate balance in astronauts, based on their center of gravity. This device, plus infrared cameras and specialized exercises, allow doctors to pinpoint, evaluate, then treat the problems that lead to balance issues, including vision problems and problems with the inner ear. In many cases, the therapy allows patients to return to their normal routines, restoring their confidence as well as their stability. As Clinical Audiologist Dr. Amy Ariss puts it, "We can fix it, we can make them better and that's a great feeling."


    Scottsdale Healthcare

    NeuroCom International, Inc.