WHAT IS THE VESTIBULAR SYSTEM?
The vestibular system includes parts of the inner ear and brain that process and control balance and eye movements. The entire body – especially the neck and the lower extremities – work with the vestibular system to control body movement.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE …
Some studies estimate that as many as 35% of people over the age of 40 have
experienced some vestibular dysfunction. 1
Dizziness is a feeling of wooziness or unsteadiness that is so prevalent that 80% of people aged 65 years and over have experienced dizziness. Dizziness can be due to an inner ear disorder, a side effect of medications, a sign of neck dysfunction, or it can be a more serious problem, such as a neurological condition 1. Dizziness can be short-lived or chronic dependent on its cause.
Physical Therapy can be very effective to manage or resolve issues causing dizziness, vertigo, and balance dysfunctions.
- Balance assessment
- Strength and flexibility measurement
- Gait (how you walk) and mobility assessment (for example how you get up from a chair or manage stairs)
- Neurological and visual exam
- Neck and overall spinal mobility
- Positional testing to assess the functioning of the inner ear
Vestibular and balance rehab can often completely resolve issues with dizziness and vertigo. In the vast majority of cases, patients make enough improvement to return to their normal level of function. Even in the case of permanent disease or condition, rehab can always improve function and safety. In the case of BPPV, a full recovery can often be achieved with only one or two treatments.
WHAT IS BPPV?
Small crystals called otoconia are normally present in a structure of the inner ear called the utricle. However, they can become dislodged and enter an adjacent structure called the semicircular canals. The canals have a small opening at their base, and some loosened otoconia can inadvertently enter and get “trapped” in the canals. Head motions will then cause the crystals to move inside the canals triggering a sensation of spinning vertigo. Head trauma increases the odds of BPPV since a shock can cause more otoconia crystals to be set loose.
Diagnosis and Treatment for BPPV
A trained doctor or therapist will know how to diagnose BPPV by performing simple tests such as the Dix-Hallpike or Roll Tests which involve moving the head in very specific directions. If this triggers some crystals to move in the canals of the inner ear, the patient will feel vertigo and the examiner will be able to see the patient’s eyes move involuntarily (nystagmus). This is a hallmark of BPPV which allows a conclusive diagnosis of BPPV. Other tests can be ordered like Calorics, VNG, or Rotary Chair Tests to confirm BPPV; but most often these tests are not necessary.
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Learn more about the services that we offer at Pro-Health Physical Therapy
Pro-Health Physical Therapy
2850 Artesia Blvd. Ste 207
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
7:30 am to 7 pm
Saturday: 8 am to 4 pm
Phone: (310) 371-4774
Fax: (310) 371-3453