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Balance & Coordination

What is Balance?

Balance is the ability to keep one’s weight evenly distributed over a central point. A lack of balance makes it difficult for people to maintain stable and upright positions when standing, walking, and even sitting.

What causes lack of balance: muscle weakness, joint stiffness, low blood pressure, inner ear problems, head injury, vision problems, medications, aging.

What is Coordination?

Coordination refers to smooth, controlled, graceful movement.

Lack of coordination occurs when there’s a miscommunication between the brain and the rest of the body. This can cause jerky, unsteady movements, and an unsteady gait (walking style). It can affect speech, eye movements, the ability to swallow, walking, picking up objects, and other voluntary movements.

Signs of Poor Balance and Coordination

  • Tripping
  • Swaying
  • Stumbling
  • Leaning to one side
  • Falling
  • Difficulty grasping items, buckling a PFD, carrying a surf craft

While Working with Someone with Poor Balance and Coordination

  • Remember that balance problems can make a person fearful of performing simple daily activities.
  • Check in with your athlete: ask them how they are doing.
  • Don’t rush – slow down.
  • Look around your environment; remove all unnecessary items and clutter from walking areas and look for any slippery surfaces.
  • Communication is key! Provide information about upcoming terrain, ie – “here comes a wave.”
  • Advise your athlete to sit down if necessary when putting on or taking off gear/clothing.

How would having poor balance and coordination affect a person in the water? Let’s look at Mr. Z:

Mr. Z is a 35-year-old male on active duty who was injured while deployed. While deployed, he sustained a below-knee amputation. Mr. Z has had some experience being out on the water. Due to his amputation, Mr. Z has poor balance and coordination. He uses a wheelchair or his Canadian crutches to get around. While participating with AccesSurf his goal is to paddle out, catch a wave, and have a good time.

Balance and Coordination with Transfer

  • Balance and coordination can affect how a person gets from point A to point B.
  • Re-familiarize yourself with Module 5. There are many different ways we can get participants in and out of the water.
  • When deciding which transfer technique is best, give your participant options and let them have a choice in which method they feel comfortable with.

Due to Mr. Z’s poor balance and coordination, which transfer options from your skills training do you think is best?

Mr. Z on the Beach

  • All of these are great options for Mr. Z:
    • The Mobi Beach Wheelchair
    • The Fireman Lift
    • Or the King Carry
A Mobi Chair

Balance and Coordination on the Water

  • Re-familiarize yourself with Module 5.
  • Your athlete’s AccesSurf Surfer Profile will help determine which surf craft and positioning will be best for them.

Due to Mr. Z’s poor balance and coordination, which surf craft or positioning options from your skills training do you think is best?

Mr. Z on the Water

  • All of these are all great options for Mr. Z:
    • A Waveski allows Mr. Z to ride the waves in a supported seated position.
    • Mr. Z could also ride the waves on a regular surfboard either kneeling, seated, or laying down on his stomach.

What to Do When Someone Falls

  • Don’t panic. Approach the fallen athlete calmly and be alert to any dangers, such as an incoming wave.
  • Use observation. Determine if the person is ok or needs further assistance that you are unable to give.
  • Call over a Key Leader. They are first aid certified and can assist.
  • Do not move the athlete on your own. Do not rush to move them.
  • If there is no visible injury such as a broken bone or bleeding, get help to carefully and slowly assist them into a chair or seated position. Watch them carefully for any signs of pain, discomfort or dizziness

Some Conditions That Affect Poor Balance and Coordination

  • Arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic or acquired brain injury
  • Amputation
  • Stroke
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Endurance > Balance & Coordination > Motor Functions