Close your eyes and stand on one foot.
It’s hard, isn’t it?
Now imagine having that same disorienting feeling on two feet, and with your eyes open.
Balance is something most of us take for granted and never need to think about – until we lose it.
During Balance Awareness Week (September 19-25, 2021), Prof Dr Margie Sharpe from the Dizziness & Balance Disorders Centre is hoping to raise awareness throughout Adelaide and Australia about the plight of people living with balance disorders, and the treatment options available to them.
"Balance and dizziness symtoms typically arise from the Vestibular, a system within your inner ear that sends signals to your brain to tell you where you are in space, whether or not you're a gymnast twirling around upside down, whether your eyes are open or closed, or whether you're in the dark," says Prof Dr Margie Sharpe.
"If you’ve ever had that awkward and even scary feeling of losing balance, even just for a moment, that’s your Vestibular System malfunctioning.
"Whether these bouts of dizziness, vertigo, or nausea come on gradually or develop suddenly, they can make many of life’s routine tasks virtually intolerable," she says.
Patients at the Dizziness & Balances Disorders Centre in Adelaide, report that balance disorders lead to everyday life (from getting around your house to doing the grocery shopping) becoming a progressively challenging obstacle course to navigate. It is exhausting!
The key aim of Balance Awareness Week is to let sufferers know they are not alone and to shine a light on invisible balance disorders.
Living with balance disorders
Prof Dr Margie Sharpe says there are three important things to consider for people living with a balance disorder.
"Firstly, they need to find ways to be at peace with the fact that many people around them will experience perfect balance and some gifted humans, like dancers from the Adelaide company, Gravity & Other Myths, will continue being able to take balance to a new level, like they’ve been doing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide in the days leading into Balance Awareness Week," she begins.
"Secondly, they will discover that while many balance disorders are incurable, those of us who specialise in this field can now use faster and more accurate diagnosis to greatly improve your quality of life as they live with these “invisible chronic” illnesses.
"And, thirdly, they will learn that practitioners like me can equip them with effective coping strategies, as well as trialling new tools, when appropriate, like BalanceBelt, which I’ve written about previously: Reflections on a belt that helps people with severe balance disorders."
If you know someone living with a balance disorder, or supporting someone who does, please share this article with them, and suggest they click through to read more in the two article links above. This way, we’ll be able to spread awareness and support.
And, of course, if you are feeling symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, or nausea, please contact the Dizziness & Balance Disorders Centre so we can assess how we might be able to help.
A handy article to share among friends and family is here: Balance Awareness Week: Imagine living life without balance?
Dizziness & Balance Disorders Centre
The Dizziness & Balance Disorders Centre is dedicated to patients who do have or think they have vertigo, dizziness and unsteadiness. Prof Dr Margie H Sharpe is the Director and Principal of the Centre and the pioneer of Vestibular and Balance Rehabilitation in Australia.
Prof Dr Margie Sharpe is a Neurological Physiotherapist (Neurophysio), who has specialised in Vestibular (Neuro-otological) Physiotherapy, which is a sub discipline of neurology, She has spent many decades working with patients to alleviate their suffering and help them find ways to regain balance, mobility, and happiness.
VeDA, the Vestibular Disorders Association, is a non-profit organisation that began Balance Awareness Week in 1997 to raise awareness of balance disorders.
Prof Dr Margie Sharpe
P: 0410 559 089