When is clumsiness a cause for concern?
Who hasn’t tripped over his own feet or knocked over a water glass on a table? No one is immune to the occasional clumsiness, but some people may grow concerned that their bouts of clumsiness are becoming more frequent.
For healthy people, bumping into a wall when misjudging a corner or dropping silverware on the floor is often a minor, isolated incident. Lack of concentration or multitasking often may be to blame. In 2007, Professor Charles Swanik and a research team at the University of Delaware studied athletes to discover why some seem to be more injury prone than others. Researchers found that clumsy athletes’ brains seemed to have “slowed processing speed,” which referred to how their brains understand new information and respond to it.
But clumsiness also can be a sign of a bigger issue at play, namely motor problems within the brain. According to Taylor Harrison, MD, clinical instructor in the neuromuscular division of Emory University, coordination of the body is complicated and tied to both motor and sensory systems. That means the eyes, brain, nerves, cerebellum, which specializes in coordination and balance, muscles, and bones must work together.
Clumsiness can result from stroke, seizure disorders, brain trauma or the presence of tumors, and other conditions. Healthline also says that clumsiness may be an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s affects the central nervous system and can impair motor skills. Alzheimer’s slowly damages and kills brain cells and may cause issues with coordination. This may be the case with other dementias as well.
Clumsiness may sometimes result from a lack of sleep or overconsumption of alcohol. Arthritis also can lead to clumsiness when joint pain and restrictive movements make it challenging to get around.
Psychologists may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy or propose performing tasks with more mindfulness to reduce clumsiness. If that doesn’t work, men and women should visit their physicians, who can conduct tests to rule out certain things and provide peace of mind.