Understanding Vestibular Disorders and Rehabilitation

Vestibular disorder is commonly referred to as vertigo and refers to issues related to balance. Our sense of balance is complicated and depends on the inner ear, the eyes, and the muscles and joints to transmit reliable information to the brain about the body's movement and position in space. Injury or illness that damages any of these areas may result in dizziness, vertigo, imbalance and other symptoms.

Vestibular disorder symptoms and their severity vary a great deal. Symptoms may include: problems with balance and equilibrium, visual changes, problems with hearing, and cognitive/psychological problems. Symptoms can potentially have a devastating effect on your quality of life, impacting day-to-day functioning, your ability to work, and relationships with family and friends.

It has been reported that 45% of the adult population experiences episodes of dizziness or vertigo to their physicians. In approximately 85% of these patients reporting these symptoms, the cause is vestibular system dysfunction. Recent studies have shown that patients often benefit from vestibular rehabilitation therapy, or VRT. The goal of VRT is to retrain the brain to process signals from the inner ear in coordination with information from vision, muscles and joints.

First, our therapists will perform a thorough evaluation. This includes observing your posture, balance, movement and performing an occulomotor exam. Based on these findings, our therapists will develop an individualized treatment plan that will include exercises to be performed in the therapy center and at home, designed to minimize symptoms, improve the patient's balance and increase their functional capacity.

Find additional information at vestibular.org


Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is a disorder that causes vertigo, dizziness, and other symptoms due to debris within the inner ear called Otoconia, or "ear rocks". BPPV may be caused by infection or inflammation that stops the stones from moving around like normal. With head movement, the debris shifts sending false signals to the brain, which affects balance.

The main symptom is a feeling that you are spinning or tilting when you are not. Symptoms are almost always caused by a change in head position such as rolling over in bed, getting out of bed or tipping the head backward.

About 20% of all dizziness is due to BPPV. It is most commonly caused by head injury in people younger than 50. About 50% of dizziness in older people (50-80 years old) is due to BPPV.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo can easily be assessed and treated with physical therapy exercises to help restore your quality of life.


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