Due to hurricane damage, the Havelock location is closed until further notice. Havelock therapists Hannah Zhang, Sarah Hall and Judy Hickes are available to see patients at the New Bern location. Please call the New Bern location at (252) 636-9800 to discuss your care.

Patient during balance and gait therapy session

Balance and Gait Disorders

Struggling with balance and gait issues can be a real challenge, but you’re not alone. Here at Peak Performance Clinics, we’re all about helping folks like you get back on their feet—literally.

For the majority of their lives, many people overlook the significance of balance and gait. Early on, as young infants are first learning how to become toddlers, we cheer and celebrate as they first learn to maintain their balance. Our Physical Therapists focus on learning how to develop balance in a chair, and on a bicycle. Eventually, as life moves forward, balance becomes something a bit less reliable. We need to work to stay balanced and able to remain on our own two feet. It is often later in life, when balance begins to falter, that we realize just how much we took the ability to stand on our own two feet without much effort or difficulty far too much for granted.

Loss of balance will happen to even the strongest of individuals. For some, this means spending time in a wheelchair, or requiring a walking stick to help move around. For others, it is merely a short-term problem that develops following an injury. Still for some, balance issues develop as a result of a neurological concern, as is the case with balance disorders. Issues like vertigo can prevent you from ever feeling truly stable on your feet. When this occurs, it is important to focus on regaining your balance by concentrating on improving your gait.

Bad falls are a constant worry for seniors and others who have physical challenges. And those worries aren’t unfounded. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and serious health problems in the United States.

Gait Training and Balance Therapy

The pace and style with which you walk are referred to as your gait. When you need to improve your walking skills, it is important to look into gait training. This is something that many people have to do after a foot or leg injury, but it is also very common among athletes. Runners especially use gait training as a way to improve their leg and foot movement to increase stability and pace while running. Your gait and your ability to maintain balance while moving are interrelated—you can’t master one without focusing on the other. Physical therapy helps you master these skills to decrease your risk of injury, while at the same time increasing your confidence and independence.

Factors that Impact Balance and Gait Disorders

There are several factors that may impact your ability to maintain balance. One of which is muscle atrophy and reflexes. In some situations, it isn’t an injury that holds you back from being able to move easily, but instead chronic weakness that may have developed as you recovered from an injury, or just as a result of the aging process. For many, loss of balance stems from the feeling of “running out of steam.” The increased fatigue means that you are more likely to injure yourself, creating a negative feedback loop of imbalance. Slow reflexes, poor posture, and fatigue can all make moving around far more difficult than it really is.

Achieving balance goes beyond having healthy feet and good shoes. It is intricately linked to your nervous system and more. Numerous body parts contribute to your ability to maintain balance. Consider the following key players:

  • Inner ears
  • Eyes
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Nervous system
  • Cognitive functions

Therapy that improves gait and balance works with all of these systems to keep them functioning in harmony.

Balance and gait training has a range of benefits, with avoiding injuries being at the top of the list. Beyond lessening your chances of falling or feeling dizzy, you’re also more likely to feel confident with your footing. In addition, those aches and pains from poor posture are likely to decrease as well.

How We Diagnose Balance and Gait Disorders

At Peak Performance Clinics, we’re all about getting to the root of the problem. That means understanding exactly what’s going on with your balance and gait. Our team of experts will observe how you walk, check your foot placement, pace and posture[^4^]. We’ll also run some simple movement and balance tests to assess your overall coordination.

Our Approach to Treating Balance and Gait Disorders

Once we’ve got a good understanding of your specific issues, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan just for you. Our approach focuses on improving your strength, flexibility and posture through targeted exercises. We also utilize gait professional development, balance exercises and other therapeutic techniques to improve your stability and coordination[^8^].

Ready to Take the Next Step?

If you’re dealing with balance and gait disorders, don’t wait another day to get the help you need. At Peak Performance Clinics, we’re committed to helping you regain your strength, stability and confidence. Our team of experts has the knowledge and experience to guide you on your journey to better balance. So, why wait? Request an appointment today at East Richlands, Garner, Greenville/Winterville, Havelock, Jacksonville, Jacksonville South, North Raleigh, Sneads Ferry, Swansboro, Wake Forest, and Washington, NC locations to set up a one-on-one consultation and full evaluation. Want to learn more about us? Feel free to call our clinic for more information.