Balance Your Day

June 6, 2017

·Residents, Short Term Therapy

Balance is the ability to maintain a position.  Coordination is the capacity to move through a complex set of movements.  Balance and coordination depends on the interaction of multiple body organs and systems including the eyes, ears, brain and nervous system, cardiovascular system and the muscles. Decreased balance and coordination can lead to falls and injury as well.  Tests or examination of any or all of these organs or systems may be necessary to determine the cause of loss of balance, dizziness or the inability to coordinate movement or activities. Arbutus Short Term Therapy program often assists residents with balance and coordination skills to strengthen weaknesses in these areas.   Here are some exercises that can be done to improve balance and coordination.

• Overhead Reaching: Individual should reach as high as they can with one or both arms. Then reach as low as they can towards their toes and then repeat. This exercise challenges their positional sense in the inner ear as well as increases core stability. Ten repetitions are sufficient.

• Pelvic Tilting: Individual should sit at the edge of a chair or wheelchair (as forward as they can). They should then arch their back and push their bottom into the back of their chair. Hold this position for 5 seconds and release. The individual should then tilt the pelvis in the opposite direction. They should also round shoulders and curl their back as much as possible. Tuck the pelvis as if they were scooting their bottoms towards the edge of the chair. Repeat five times each way.

• Ball/Balloon Toss: Individual should sit at the edge of their chair or wheelchair and participate in ball tossing with a partner. This exercise helps to increase agility, reaction time, as well as trunk and pelvic stability.

• Ankle Pumps: Straighten one leg in front. Point the toes toward the sky and hold for 2 seconds and then point at the floor for 2 seconds. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each leg then take a break and perform another full set.

• Still Sitting: Individual sits forward in their chair and closes their eyes for 25 seconds. A partner instructs them to try to keep their bodies in mid-line. Partner observes if their bodies begin to drift or lean to and fro. See if they are able to correct themselves or offer slight input {like a touch on the shoulder) to assist.

Consistently practicing these exercises will help improve balance and coordination.  -kf

Contributor: Kim Fetchko is the Rehabilitation Director, OTR for Flagship Rehabilitation at Arbutus