about everything you do in your daily life—whether it’s walking,
driving a car or brushing your teeth—requires balance.
most people balance is so instinctive they don’t think about it—until
dizziness or disorientation signals that something has gone wrong.
And when that happens, UC’s Balance Center is one of few comprehensive care facilities in the area available to diagnose and treat the problem.
balance depends on three complex processes, says Julie Honaker,
director of audiology in the UC Department of Otolaryngology–Head and
Neck Surgery: the sensory system’s ability to accurately determine the
body’s position relative to the environment (standing up, for example),
the brain’s ability to process that information, and the coordinating
movement of the muscles and joints.
body’s balance sensors include the eyes, the sense of touch, and the
inner ear—where calcium carbonate “otolith particles” and fluid inside
three paired canals stimulate hair cells to generate senses of forward,
backward and vertical motion in the head.
The Balance Center
offers various tests that examine all the balance sensory systems and a
person’s ability to execute coordinated movements, both voluntary and
involuntary, to maintain balance.
Already one of the best equipped of its kind, UC’s Balance Center
recently updated equipment and added several new tests, all of which
provide a more comprehensive look at the inner ear balance system than
standard technology. They are:
· A rotational chair:
UC is one of the first comprehensive balance centers in the area to
offer this test. Patients are seated in a chair that rotates at
different speeds to measure their eye movements. The chair features
multiple testing options that focus on different aspects of balance
· Platform posturography:
This series of tests measures how well patients can maintain their
balance while the walls and floor of the booth in which they are
standing are gradually moved.
(vestibular evoked myogenetic potential): This technique measures
responses from the saccule, one of the otolith organs in the
inner ear, to sound stimulation, including high-intensity acoustic
stimuli, clicks and low-frequency tones.
many conditions can cause dizziness and disorientation,” says Honaker.
“We’re like detectives when we evaluate and test people for balance
disorders, because of all the conditions that must be ruled out as the
cause. That’s why we’re really excited to add this equipment to our
center—it gives us more in-depth options for what’s causing a patient’s
can develop balance problems because of inner ear conditions, head
injury, stroke or other neurological issues, she explains.
disorders can really disrupt a person’s life,” adds Ravi Samy, MD,
assistant professor of otolaryngology. “They can cause fatigue, shorten
the attention span, disrupt sleep patterns and increase the risk of
falling, making it difficult to do everyday tasks.”
problems also increase with age, and Honaker, currently studying the
risk and fear of falling in the elderly, hopes to establish a program
for at-risk patients.
an aging population, so it’s important to offer safety and counseling
tips to help those at risk of falling,” she says. “I’m hoping to
develop a multidisciplinary approach, which would include primary care,
geriatric and neurology physicians among others.”
For more information on balance disorders, visit www.netwellness.org,
a collaborative health-information Web site staffed by
Ohio physicians, nurses and allied health professionals, or call
(513) 475-8453 to schedule an appointment at the Balance Center.