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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Balance


People with visual impairment have a higher risk of falling compaired to people without visual impairment (Tran et al., 2011). This risk is elevated when combined with other detrimental factors such as age or chronic conditions. An exercise program tailored to the visually impaired has been shown to improve balance, posture, coordination, flexibility, and psychosocial health of people with visual impairment (Surakka & Tero 2008). Since balance programs have been demonstrated to reduce fall risk (Clemson et al., 2012), it is essential to incorporate a balance component into a ritualistic exercise program. Perform these exercises in a a safe environment with supervision:

  • Balance may be improved by working on lower extremity strength, such as squats, lunges, hip flexion, and knee flexion/extension.
  • Flexibility on lower extremities should also be performed to ensure adequate walking-mechanics to avoid obstacles and everyday situations. Such flexibility exercises may include working on foot plantar flexors or dorsi flexors.
  • Stance positions are a great way to challenge the different sensory mechanisms incorporated with balance (vision, proprioceptions, and vestibular function). Stances that can be performed include: single leg, tandem, wide, narrow, and stagger stance. To increase the difficulty while holding these positions, a participant may close their eyes or have a friend slightly-nudge them.

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