Balance & Coordination
Balance is the ability to maintain your center of
gravity over a base of support. In order to maintain
balance one must have adequate control of not only the
legs and arms but also the trunk and head. Although
balance is usually referred to as maintaining an upright
position while sitting or standing, balance is needed to
complete activities that require bending, reaching or
lifting one foot. Such activities cause a shift in body
weight or center of gravity. A child may try to widen his
base of support to maintain his balance, for example stand
with feet apart or sit with legs apart. As a student, one’s
balance is constantly challenged with crowded hallways,
maneuvering around and between desks in the classroom and
lunchroom, and participating in activities with one’s peers.
Coordination is the ability to perform smooth, fluid,
accurate and controlled movements. Coordinated movements
are characterized by appropriate speed, distance, direction,
rhythm and muscle tension. Coordinated movements are
purposeful movements, not jerky movements, which allow
successful transition from one posture or position to
another within a reasonable amount of time. Coordination
also deals with the ability to visualize an object and react
appropriately, such as when attempting to catch a ball or
write an assignment (eye-hand coordination). This ability
to react appropriately and in a timely manner also enables
a student to respond safely to changes in the environment,
such as a book falling from a shelf.
In order to successfully and safely move through the
environment without bumping into people or objects, or
fall down following a weight displacement, one must
have adequate balance and coordination. Movement that
is smooth and efficient helps conserve energy for endurance.
Examples of higher-level balance and coordination activities
are jumping rope, hopscotch, and roller skating.
The physical therapist uses a variety of sensory motor
techniques that enhance balance, equilibrium, and
coordination to improve functional activities.
Rickard Rehabilitation Services, Inc.