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Balance & Coordination

Balance is the ability to stay in a steady position without falling. Coordination is the ability to use different parts of the body together. Balance and coordination can be affected by cancer and cancer treatments.

Balance and Coordination - Patient Handout

Balance is the ability to stay in a steady position without falling. 

Coordination is the ability to use different parts of the body together.

Balance and coordination can be affected by cancer and cancer treatments. 

People who have had cancer and treatment may have problems with balance, may feel dizzy or nauseated, or feel like the room is spinning.

People may also feel weak, which can cause problems with coordination and/or walking.

Some cancers directly affect the nervous system. People who have/had brain cancer or cancers in the spine or nerves will be most affected. Some cancers in other parts of the body may press on nerves. 

Some treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation to the head, neck or spine will also impact the nervous system and cause problems with balance and coordination. 
Problems with balance and coordination may appear after radiation in the short term (2-6 month) or in the long term (months or years after treatment).
 
Talk with your health care team about any symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Problems with balance may be caused by medication, an upper respiratory infection or virus, or nerve damage.

A neurological examination may be done to assess how your nervous system is functioning. This will help to determine if nerves are causing your symptoms. 

You may be sent for tests such as CT scans or MRI to check pictures of your brain or other areas of the body.

You may be assessed to determine your risk for falling. 

You may be prescribed medications to prevent nausea or dizziness.

You may be advised to use a mobility aid, such as a cane, crutches or walker.
 

Choose a healthy diet and exercise

  • Choose exercises that work on balance and muscle strength (discuss your exercise plans with a medical professional first)
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes calcium and vitamin D for bone health  
  • Ask for help if you need a hand with cooking or getting groceries 

Get regular check-ups

  • Have your vision checked regularly
  • Review your medication list with your doctor or pharmacist
  • Talk with your family doctor or nurse practitioner about your history of cancer and treatment and/or your history of falls
Prevent falls 

Problems with balance and coordination can lead to a fall. Falling can cause injuries, such as a hip-fracture or brain injury, which can lead to a loss of independence.

  • Rise slowly from a bed or chair to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure. Ask for assistance when needed.
  • Wear appropriate footwear (non-skid rubber soled and low heels) and avoid wearing only socks on tile or wood floors.
Most falls happen at home while doing usual activities. You can make changes to your home to prevent falls and increase safety. For example:

  • Remove area rugs or tape down the edges to reduce trip hazards
  • Keep stairs in good shape and free of clutter
  • Use handrails on stairs and in slippery areas like bathrooms and kitchens

BCCA library Recommended websites: Balance & Coordination Websites 

 
SOURCE: Balance & Coordination ( )
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