Vestibular Dysfunction: The forgotten cause of poor balance
By: Shane Lawlor
Balance information in the body comes from three main sources, these include the joints, eyes and the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is made up of three semi circular canals that are filled with fluid. The three canals are arranged in different positions in the inner ear, one is horizontal, one vertical, and one at 45 degrees to the horizontal.
Testing the Vestibular System:
The main indication of poor vestibular function is failing the single leg balance test on both legs. To test the system thoroughly the player must be placed on an unstable surface, an Airex Pad is the best choice.
The player is then asked to bring their head up and down as quickly as possible, and this is repeated with a side to side motion. The player falling off the airex pad is a failed test.
To increase the difficulty the player can repeat the same head movements but they are now asked to close their eyes for the second part of the test.
Training the Vestibular System:
The exercises for training the vestibular system is very simple because they will be exactly the same as the testing process. Dependent on the test findings the player will repeat the failed test 3 or 4 times, trying to stay on the airex pad for as long a possible. This time will increase each time the training is done.
To make the training more difficult for the players, eye tracking can be incorporated in to the exercises, this will help improve the players ability to track the ball or slither.