Monday, February 04, 2008
Keeping your balance
Tangia Boyd stands on the balance platform

By Val Willingham
Medical Producer

Tangia Boyd loves high heels. A confessed shoe fanatic, she's the Carrie Bradshaw of Temple University. So when she was asked to participate in a balance study through Temple's Physical Therapy Department, she thought she'd get to wear a new pair of stilettos. Instead she wound up barefoot, standing on a moving platform, wearing 3-D glasses and strapped to a harness. Sounds more like an amusement park ride than an experiment. But Temple is using a virtual environment to see how and why people recover when they're thrown off balance.

Surrounded by moving screens, the Temple lab is set up to see how the central nervous system handles movement in a natural setting. That's because all our senses help keep us balanced. When there's a change, it can knock us off stride. "If you have an impairment in the sensation of your limbs, your balance will become impaired," said Dr. Emily Keshner, director of the project. "If you lose your inner-ear sensors, your balance is impaired."

More than 6 million people in this country suffer from chronic dizziness or imbalance, and those numbers are expected to grow as our population gets older. As we age, our balance can be affected. Minor injuries can play a big role in balance control. Athletes will favor one side of their bodies if they've hurt a foot or leg and begin to lose their stability. Also good posture is crucial in keeping your balance. Yoga and tai chi can help correct balance at any age. Keshner says these methods "are actually good in two ways. One, they'll strengthen you, but two they also make you pay more attention to the input you are getting from your limbs."

As we get older, our senses begin to change. Our hearing isn't as good, our eyesight may need to be corrected, so by keeping senses intact, balance problems can be avoided. And getting plenty of sleep makes a difference. Being alert helps. Keshner says that's because, "A lot of times, there are so many things going around us, we can't always pay attention to everything that is happening. It becomes a processing problem."

With data from this project, Keshner and her researchers hope to develop tools that can help people, especially stroke victims and those with brain disorders, keep their balance even as they age.

As for Tangia Boyd, she stayed upright on the platform, even though it left her "a little dizzy". At age 42 she's still walking a straight line, which makes it easier for her to get around in her new as Jimmy Choos. Do you have a problem with balance? Tell us how you handle it.

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I have noticed that sometimes I will stand with my feet closer together and this causes unstability.

Now I make a conscious effor to spread my feet further apart when standing next to a counter.

Its a small thing and I am not sure why it is happening.
Sanjay,

You say that Clinton's plan covers 100% uninsured for 124 Billion and Obama's covers 50% for 120B - yeah, according to Clinton's adviser! What a spin!

You also say that lots of famlies making over $75000 chose not to buy health insurance. Isn't it clear that lowering insurance will help these families??

You are a Clinton whitehouse fellow and I perfectly understand where your heart is with. But, if you remember how Clintons wasted the opportunity of getting health coverage for lots of uninsurred, aren't you doing a diservices to these people??
There is something that I am curious about...

of those families making $75,000 or more...

how many of those CAN'T buy insurance because of a pre existing condition?
I have a few aunts that have a symptom called 'vertigo' in which they are overcome with sudden dizziness, sometimes to the point where they vomit or fall down - it is caused by an imbalance in the structures of the inner ear

I've since noticed that it's not that uncommon of a disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 40% of people in the United States experience feeling dizzy at least once during their lifetime. Prevalence is slightly higher in women and increases with age.
After an ear infection, 7 month ago, I have had positional dizzyness. If I tilt my head back or to the side, I get dizzy. Tried an RX for vertigo, but made me sleepy, so don't know what to do for it.
How do I deal with it? If standing, I lean against something or have my hand out and touch the counter, wall or whatever as I move through the area. Sometimes, I just fall down. I did take a theatre class to learn how to fall (on stage) without hurting myself. That has paid dividends!
As an obese 54 year old, I had problems with balance recently. But it is not that I don't know when I am off balance. The problem is that I didn't have the stregth to recover. I started an exercise program and my balance has improved a lot.
My best recommednation is to forget all of the pills, my guess is that your body isnt deficient in the RX that you happen to be taking, am i correct? The best results you will get are through chiropractic care. Chiropractic deals directly with the balance of the nervous system and clearing the nervous system irritability that is causing the dizziness(especially the upper neck region which is associated with ear infection),and the structure that protects and supports it, also know as the spine.
As an 82 year old I am only too aware of how important balance is. I work out (weights) 3X a week at my local gym, and part of that training is done on a Bosu, or other modalities to improve my balance. I believe you can improve your balance, strength and general well being at any age.
I am a Canadian currently living in US. I have 2 health insurances. My husband and I pay atleast pay 26 thousand for insurances. Most of it paid by our employers. Even after having 2 health insurances, I am scared to go to doctor office or for any test because I know I will get multiple bills for every visit I make to doctor's office. I am flooded with medical bills every month. So much of my time and energy go to just following up on these bills insurance claims and figuring out what is covered and what is not covered. I have been living in US for 8 years now but still could not figure out that how insurance companies deductibles work. I feel that even after having 2 insurances all basic healthcare needs, I have to pay from my own pocket, because even a doctor visit for a common cold is not covered by insurance.
In addition to that now insurance companies require health surveys and they give other incentives that you have to take. So much of precious time and energy go into just the paper work for all these incentives plus the Flexible spending plan claims, which is almost impossible to manage for people like me with 4 children and a full time job. It adds a tremendous stress to my life.
When I was living in Canada, I never got one single bill in the mail for my medical expense.
I think citizen of developed country like US should have a right for 100% healthcare and education. I think it is moral obligation as a society to provide every citizen with 100% of healthcare and education, and I am surprised to see why citizen of this great country do not demand these rights from their elected officials.
Dr.Gupta,
Ever since i turned 45 i have been dealing with the "lightheadedness" which i have gone to the ER several times for and all they can tell me that its "mild Vertigo". I have HBP and thyroid problems but the drs. tell me its all stress related.. I have a hard time exercising to loose weight because somedays are worse than others with the lightheadedness. I feel its realted to the 4 rear end or head on accidents i have had and i notice that my neck is where my stress goes. I have a tight neck and constant neck pain. I have tons of tests with no relief. My lightheadedness seems to affect me more when i tilt my head forward and back. My employment involves alot of computer work. Why would this all of sudden arise and what can i do if any exercise to help this? I am soo frustrated and i think the drs. think i am a hypocondriac because i am in pain in my neck and the dizzyness, could this be related? i have had a stress test,ultrasound on the carotid arteries, xrays, MRI,CT scans and nothing.. HELP if you can please
okay so I have come to this. Instead of wasting money...buying napkins. I don't use them lol. I use a for for evverything. Pizza, Burritos, Grilled Cheese, Fries, Turkey burger, grilled chicken sandwich, I'm saying everything. I think my daughter caught on because most 2 year old would dive in their birthday cake not her. She cried until she had a fork. NO mess!!! lol. I just try and do my part to help keep the planet clean I guess in my own dorky way! You say why not cloth napkins. Waste of water...engery! Just don't make a mess eat with a fork don't put more in your mouth than you can REALLY handle! Try it...do your own little part.
Thatsagoodidea hotmail
I am a 42 year old woman with Meniere`s syndrom. I have severe rotational vertigo that comes on suddenly,along with fullness in my ear,and constant ringing.
I balance issues off and on all day long. I was diagnosed in 2005 and have lost most of my hearing on my left side.
In fact in order to give me the best chance of stopping the vertigo, I will under go surgery this June. The surgery is called Labryrinthectomy and eighth nerve section. I will be totally deaf on my affected side after the surgery.
I feel we need more funding to find the root cause of balance disorders. I was told by the doctors they do not know what causes Meniere`s syndrom, and there is no cure.
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