A variety of conditions can cause lost sense of balance in the inner ears, including inner-ear diseases, aging, and brain injuries, etc., resulting in inability to maintain balance of the body, with disabling effects ranging from reduced activity levels to total loss of mobility. Chronic dizziness and imbalance lead to secondary problems such as cognitive dysfunction and anxiety that can severely impair life. Currently no device is on the market to augment the sense of balance for these patients.
Study shows, from 2001-2004, as many as 35.4% of US adults aged 40 years and older - approximately 69 million Americans – have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction (inner-ear disorders.
There are 46 million people 65 years of age and older in the US By 2060, this number will grow to 98 million. 20% - 30% of this age group has dizziness and balance disorders, and 1/4 of them fall each year.
5.3 million U.S. citizens are living with disability as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Worldwide an estimated 42 million people suffer concussion. Many of them have chronic dizziness and imbalance.
Migraine is affecting 38 million people in the US, and 1 billion worldwide. About 40% of patients with migraine have vertigo, motion sickness, and mild hearing loss.
MS affects 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide, and there is no cure for MS. It is very common for people with MS to feel dizzy and imbalanced.
The sense of balance is so vital to our well-being that it is sometimes called a sixth sense. The human body relies on balance for virtually all kinds of physical activities. Yet, normal people take it for granted and do not fully realize its importance. Without the sense of balance, it is a very difficult task to stand or move on two legs without falling. The major balance organ is a delicate system inside our inner ears called vestibular apparatus, which sends feedback information about the orientation and movement of the head to the brain. The brain uses the vestibular feedback in coordination with vision and proprioception (sensory input from the muscles and joints) to maintain balance of the entire body.
A variety of conditions cause loss of vestibular feedback either because of the problems in the inner ears or because the vestibular input does not reach the brain correctly. An individual with vestibular loss experiences various problems including imbalance, dizziness, and vertigo. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy may reduce some of the symptoms through compensation by vision and proprioception. However, the lost vestibular function cannot be fully compensated and balance with vestibular loss is difficult if not impossible, especially in situations such as dim lighting, misleading visual information, or walking on uneven surfaces.