Balance In The Older Population

Balance is necessary for us to maintain our posture, react to outside stimuli, and respond to voluntary movements. Your balance is comprised of three different systems - visual, vestibular, and somatosensory. The visual system is responsible for our sight, the vestibular system tells us where our body is at in space, and the somatosensory system helps with our perception of touch, or proprioception. We need all three of these systems to work to coordinate movement and balance, but the older we get, the less these systems work.

The main way we regain our balance is by using what’s called an ankle hip strategy meaning we use the muscles in our ankles and then our hips to stop us from falling. The elderly tend to subconsciously use their hips first causing an increased sway at the trunk that can lead to more falls. 

Physical therapy is a great way to challenge these systems in a safe and controlled environment. These systems can be relearned to use properly in the elderly! Practice makes perfect with balance! You have to continue challenging these systems, your strength, and stability. 


Osoba MY, Rao AK, Agrawal SK, Lalwani AK. Balance and gait in the elderly: A contemporary review. Laryngoscope Investig Otolaryngol. 2019 Feb 4;4(1):143-153. doi: 10.1002/lio2.252. PMID: 30828632; PMCID: PMC6383322.

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