Keeping your eyes open, balance yourself on one leg for at least 20 seconds. Yes, that’s all.
This seemingly simple task activates a complex system of sensory, balance, and motor control neural networks in the brain.
Barring physical disabilities, if someone can’t maintain their balance on a single leg for at least 20 seconds, it increases the likelihood of having cerebral small vessel disease – typically this means blocked or ruptured capillaries within the brain.
Having cerebral small vessel disease increases the risk of ischemic stroke and cognitive impairment associated with vascular dementia.
These results come from a recent study published in the science journal of the American Heart Association.
The Dynamic Balance Control Networks in the Brain
Several areas of the brain are involved in maintaining balance, including both cortical areas such as the parietal lobe and cerebellum, and deep brain structures like the thalamus and brainstem:
Damage or impairment to any one of these areas can cause balance and postural instability. People over age 50 with a history of hypertension and other heart problems have the greatest risk of balance problems from small vessel disease in these brain regions.
This simple 20 second balance test could provide both consumers and health care providers with an easy screening method to determine if a more detailed checkup is warranted.
Want to learn more? Try the Healthy Brain Test to learn how to keep your brain in good working order.