Do you feel a loss of balance or fear of falling while completing the tasks that make up your day?
Are you wondering how you can fix this problem?
Balance training in occupational therapy can be of great benefit to anyone facing these issues, especially in older populations and those with neuromuscular conditions.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy (OT) aims to restore a patient's health through engagement in daily activities that are meaningful to them or necessary for living independently. Whether you have an injury, illness, or disability, OT is a personalized approach to recovery. For example, getting dressed or hitting a tennis ball. The goal is to get you back to doing the things you love, and OT can maximize results. Read more about our OT specialties in our blog post.
Static vs. Dynamic Balance
There are two different components to balance: static and dynamic balance.
The body's ability to hold itself while not making large movements. The body is stationary and the center of mass is in the base of support. Practices such as standing on one leg or squatting require you to use static balance.
The body's ability to balance while in motion. The body is moving and the center of mass is outside of the base of support, walking can be an example of this.
Maintaining balance is essential for a functional life, it helps you move without support, complete tasks independently, and most of all keeps you from falling over. Both static and dynamic balance are interconnected and important in balance training; start with static exercises based on ability, and work your way up to dynamic.
Balance Approaches in Occupational Therapy
Occupation-based interventions can help differentiate occupational therapy from physical therapy. Many of these activities provide functional, client-centered interventions that are a part of your daily routine and are easy to perform at home. Below is a list of goals that occupational therapy and balance training focus on:
Develop and maintain good posture and body mechanics during functional mobility
Improve proprioception and spatial awareness while navigating the natural environment
Learn to adapt to external stimuli
Improve coordination and motor control in the upper and lower body
Improve neuro re-education during functional movement activities
At-Home Balance Training
We utilize a client-centered approach to put the power back into the patient's hands. Balance training can be done in the clinic and also at home, doing the daily tasks or activities that the patient struggles with. Examples of different movements to improve balance include:
Stepping in and out of the tub or threshold of the shower, performing multiple repetitions to challenge stability
Making the bed standing, including stripping the sheets and reapplying clean ones
Dusting high and low surfaces
Putting away groceries
Placing dishes in the dishwasher or high cabinets
Sweeping or mopping
Golfing & dancing
Walking on various surfaces to improve tactile input and stimuli
Schedule the Care You Need!
We hope you have a better understanding of occupational therapy and balance exercises. If you are wondering if you should see an occupational therapist, "Request an Appointment" or give our Carlsbad location a call at (760) 542-2414. From our front desk to our physical therapists, everyone is highly trained to assist you in finding the best possible care.
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Audrey Matthess, MS, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist at our Carlsbad clinic. She obtained her bachelor's at UCSB and her master's in occupational therapy at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. She specializes in neurology, spinal cord injury, hands, and orthopedic conditions.