Balance

Balance is the ability to maintain the center of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway. The ability to sense a shift in the relationship of the body parts that alter one’s balance, as well as the ability to adjust rapidly and accurately for these changes with the appropriate compensating movements (Gallahue & Ozmun, 2003, p. 417).

With balance (and coordination and strength), someone in a wheelchair will be able to reach low to pick up an object like a ball or reach high to catch an object. Balance may differ greatly when sitting still (static) versus while moving (dynamic). There are many things which may affect balance:

  • Spasticity
  • Level of disability if spinal cord related
  • Missing limbs or other anatomical asymmetries
  • Rods or permanent medical implants or devices
  • Visual impairment
  • Other neurological reasons

Building core muscles, where possible is usually a starting point for improving balance. Whatever the cause of challenges with balance, finding novel ways to address and improve it are central to performing many other skills. Seating position in the sport wheelchair can be adjusted and modified to find optimal balance points for performing movement and sport skills.