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Scientists find balance issues more prevalent in elderly

Most people, when they trip or lose their footing, they hardly think about how their body reacts to this change in balance. But it’s something scientists and researchers across the nation have been considering lately and they believe they may have discovered a way to help prevent injury-causing falls in the future.

One such research project, conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, looked at the difference between how young people cope with balance issues versus older participants. In their study, researchers noticed that younger people could quickly adjust to changes versus their elderly counterparts who had trouble maintaining their balance when such changes occurred.

According to scientists, the body relies on three main systems to control balance: the visual system, the proprioceptive system and the vestibular system. If any of these systems isn’t working properly or is disabled for any reason, a person has a harder time maintaining their balance, which can result in an injury-causing fall.

As some of our readers with some balance disabilities will agree, research into how our body maintains balance could be incredibly helpful in determining new ways of preventing falls associated with balance conditions. While many of these conditions can be disabling on their own, some injuries caused by falls can be just as problematic if not more so.

It’s important to point out that injury-causing falls that do result in temporary or permanent disabilities, while frustrating, may also qualify a person for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Because each case is different however, a person considering applying for benefits may want to speak to an attorney, especially if their application has been denied in the past.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "From Athletes to the Elderly: The Science of Trips and Falls," Shirley S. Wang, Sept. 23, 2013

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