We often take our ability to balance ourselves on our feet for granted.
Injuries can cause balance related issues. Our mind and body work in tandem to control our body’s movement. The brain senses that the body is losing center and will involuntarily prompt the legs or arms to move, take a step, or adjust posture to avoid falling down.
The ability to maintain balance can be affected when a person suffers a traumatic brain injury. (TBI). According to statistics, about 30 to 60 percent of all accident victims suffering from TBIs report balance issues such as dizziness and disequilibrium. These issues are characterized by lightheadedness, vertigo (a condition where the surroundings seem to move), imbalance, or lack of balance while standing or sitting.
What is Balance?
Balance is defined as the ability of humans to keep their body centered to the ground. Balance is determined by factors like physical strength, coordination, cognitive ability, and the senses. Problems with balance after a TBI depend upon:
- the seriousness of the injury
- the location in the brain where the injury has occurred
- other injuries accompanied by TBI such as a cervical spine injury, rib or leg fractures
- injuries to organs that determine a person’s balance
- medications given for treatment or for coping with traumatic events
Diagnosing Balance-Related Problems
Issues with balance can be diagnosed and treated by a number of medical specialists including:
- otolaryngologists (ENTs)
The first step in diagnosis is to check medication, as they are a very common cause of balance-related issues. The Berg Balance Scale and the Dynamic Gait Index are used to detect balance problems among patients. These tests can also track improvement and progress with balance after the issue has been diagnosed and treated with therapy.
Causes of Loss of Balance
Loss of balance after a TBI could be caused by a number of factors:
- Medication – Commonly prescribed TBI medications or changes in medicines like antibiotics, blood pressure and heart medications, tranquilizers, and anti-seizure medicines can cause disturbances in balance, dizziness, decreased sense of balance, and lightheadedness.
- Postural hypotension – Postural hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands or sits suddenly, causing dizziness and lightheadedness. A regular blood pressure check in standing, lying, and sitting positions can help diagnose postural hypotension.
- Vision impairment – Visual disturbances after a TBI include visual instability, double vision, problems with depth perception, and partial loss of vision.
- Vestibular impairment – The Vestibular Labyrinth or the inner ear system is made up of three semicircular canals that contain fluid and fine hair for monitoring head rotation and linear movements and are sensitive to gravity and motion. Any injury caused to these organs can result in problems with balance, dizziness, and vertigo.
- Sensory impairment – The nerves of the body are the sensation matrix that delivers messages to the brain. Any injury to these nerves (for example, nerves in the feet that send messages to the brain) can cause balance problems.
- Brainstem injury – Injuries occurring to the brainstem hamper the function of the cerebellum and brain stem to detect movement and maintain balance.
- Mental health problems – Brain injuries can cause mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and a fear of falling.
Chicago Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
TBIs that cause balance-related issues can interfere with normal living. If your injuries resulted because of another’s negligence, contact a Chicago traumatic brain injury lawyer to understand your rights. Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166 for a free consultation.