If you’ve ever slid your feet up the street, bent your back, shifted your arm and then pulled it back, congratulations: you know how to “Walk Like an Egyptian.” But have you ever wondered how, exactly, Egyptians — or anybody in Tulsa, for that matter — are able to walk? We can thank the vestibular system for making such movement possible.
Anatomy of the Balance System
It’s safe to say that few people in Tulsa probably give balance much thought, taking it for granted much as we do with blinking or breathing.
Unless we’re navigating an icy trail or there’s a stray banana peel in our way, we’re pretty sure we can get from Point A to Point B without falling. That all changes when a balance disorder affects our equilibrium, increasing our risk of serious injury from a fall.
How does our balance affect our ability to walk?
Proper balance is essential in keeping us upright. It allows us to see clearly while moving, orient ourselves in relation to gravity, determine direction and speed of movement and automatically make adjustments to maintain posture and stability while coordinating movement with balance. Pretty spiffy, huh? All of this is accomplished courtesy of the vestibular system.
What are the parts of the balance system?
This sensory system provides us with a sense of balance and spatial orientation and is made up of two parts: the semicircular canals, three interconnected tubes in the inner ear that are filled with endolymphatic fluid and help detect rotational movement; and the otoliths, comprised of the saccule and utricle, organs that allow us to perceive linear acceleration.
What information does our sensory system send?
The vestibular system sends symmetrical impulses to the brain, information that allows it to determine position and acceleration at any given moment. Along with sensory information from the eyes, muscles and joints, we are able to maintain equilibrium.
What causes balance disorders?
Abnormalities in the vestibular system can result in conflicting sensory information, causing dizziness, vertigo and other symptoms. Balance disorders including labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease and Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) may result.
What are the most common balance disorders?
Dysfunction of the vestibular systems is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in Tulsa, as these disorders can cause temporary or permanent hearing impairment.
How are balance problems diagnosed?
In order to diagnose and treat a balance problem, your Tulsa audiologist relies on balance assessment tests such as videonystagmogaphy, evoked potential tests and vestibulo-ocular reflex testing. They may be difficult to pronounce but provide your audiologist with the information needed to diagnose and treat your condition.
What should you do if you have balance issues?
If you are experiencing dizziness or balance issues, schedule an appointment with a Tulsa audiologist as soon as you can. Treatment will help prevent injury related to an accident or fall.