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The Miracle of Balance: What Happens When the System Gets Out of Sync

Expert Chats

Renowned Mass. Eye and Ear balance expert Dr. Steven Rauch, MD, explains what balance is, why it is miraculous, and what people can do to avoid age-related declines.

A person’s sense of balance is “miraculous,” according to Dr. Steven D. Rauch, medical director of the Balance and Vestibular Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Balance, he explains, is different from other senses like sight, sound and smell, which come from one single input (eyes, ears, and nose, respectively). Instead, balance is a complex interplay of sensory inputs from across the body that get processed in the brain.

So, what happens when these processes are not aligned and a person’s balance is permanently affected?

This was the question posed by Dr. Rauch last month at TEDx Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was an invited speaker. In his talk, Dr. Rauch spoke about the harsh realities of balance issues and how aging is a primary cause of balance decline. In fact, dizziness is one of the top three complaints during primary care office visits. These patients are at a higher risk for falls, which are a source of severe injuries and increased mortality in older adults.

Dr. Rauch explains the challenges many people with chronic dizziness and balance problems face.  He offered attendees a concrete approach with tips that anyone can take to maintain balance through their “golden years,” and why he advises people take a “use it or lose it” approach to their balance.

Watch Dr. Rauch’s talk, called “Sense of Balance: Truth AND Consequences.”

TED is a nonprofit organization that’s devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks on topics ranging from science to business to global issues. TedX Kenmore Square was organized by a team led by Noah S. Siegel, MD, medical director of Otolaryngology at Mass. Eye and Ear, Longwood.

About our Expert

Dr. Steven Rauch is an otolaryngologist and Medical Director of the Vestibular Center at Mass. Eye and Ear who focuses on the diagnosis and medical and surgical management of hearing and balance disorders. He sees patients at the Mass. Eye and Ear, Main Campus in Boston (243 Charles Street).

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