Physiology Basics

Human beings have a biological system that lets us to know where our bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position. Human balance relies on information from the inner ear, senses (sight and touch) and muscle movement.

The Human Balance System has three components; Visual (depth, velocity and motion perception), Vestibular (inner ear), and Somatic Sensory or Somatosensory (proprioception and exteroception).

The Vestibular Component (inner ear) containing three canals is the most important part of human balance. The three canals contain tiny hair cells and a gel-like liquid called endolymph. When both the left and right inner ears are working properly they supply the brain with ongoing information transmitted through the central nervous system about linear and angular positions of the body in relation to gravity.

The Visual Component (depth, velocity and motion perception) is based on input from the eyes, which provide the brain information about the position of the body in relation to other objects, their depth, velocity and motion. The eyes and the ears compliment each other and help not just maintain balance, but also to also allow clear vision during movement. The inner ear provides feedback that is used to continuously adjust the eyes in coordination to even the slightest movement of the body.

The Somatic Sensory or Somatosensory Component (proprioception and exteroception) provides the brain with two valuable pieces of internal and external spatial information in order to maintain balance. One piece comes from internal sensors within the body called propriceptors, which give the central nervous system feedback about the movement of body parts in relation to other parts of the body. Without this feedback you would not be able to put food in your mouth without visually watching your hand moving to your mouth. A common test for loss of this feedback source is walking a straight line. The other piece of information comes from external body sensors called exteroceptors. Exteroceptors are pressure sensors located in your feet and hands to provide external spatial information about the topography of the ground or support surface. Exteroception also helps in your overall balance by relaying information about ground movement itself. For example, the difference between standing on a concrete sidewalk and standing on a swinging bridge.

Sincerely Yours In Balance
Editor In Chief