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Belmar Physical Therapy

Dizziness and Vertigo

Vestibular Disorder Anatomy of the Ear
Anatomy of the Ear

Dizziness is a very prevalent condition that affects up to 30% of individuals over the age of 65.  It is one of the most common reasons for visits to primary care providers and can be debilitating for the patient.  Dizziness/vertigo is a wide umbrella in which symptoms can vary from mild to severe, transient to constant, spinning sensation to sense of imbalance and functional to home ridden.  No matter the severity of symptoms, your dizziness is something that should be extensively worked up in order to determine a potential cause and appropriate treatment strategy.  

Physical therapists with appropriate training in vestibular disorders (dizziness/imbalance) are an important piece to solving the dizziness puzzle.  They are trained to extensively examine, evaluate and treat common vestibular disorders and work closely with other medical providers (primary care providers, ENTs, neurologists) to rule out serious pathology and determine the best course of treatment for each individual case.  

Some common sources of dizziness and vertigo are listed below:

Benign Positional Paroxymal Vertigo (BPPV):  this is one of the most common causes of episodic vertigo especially in the aging population.  This condition is often described as severe spinning and nausea that lasts less than 60 seconds at a time.  It is often worse when lying down in bed and rolling over.  Many people report that these symptoms start after a fall, blow to the head or, in many cases, there is no direct cause at all.  This condition occurs when small crystals in your inner ear called otoconia get dislodged.  This condition is effectively treated in physical therapy using a technique called the Epley maneuver.  This technique repositions the otoconia in the appropriate part of the inner ear to resolve symptoms.  BPPV usually resolves in 1-3 visits.

 

Vestibular Hypofunction:  There are 3 main systems that control your balance: your vision, your inner ear (vestibular system) and your proprioceptors (joint position sensors).  Often, one or more of those systems aren’t working as hard as they should, which can result in a feeling of dizziness or imbalance.  This is also commonly treated in physical therapy with specific exercise and neuromuscular re-education. 

 

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Belmar Physical Therapy

Elderly Balance Problems & Outpatient Physical Therapy

You can generally improve your balance with exercise and physical therapy.

Balance disorders commonly affect the elderly.  Balance problems are caused by a number of factors, including medications, disease, inner ear problems, poor muscle tone and lack of activity. Outpatient physical therapy and exercise instruction may help seniors enjoy fuller and more active lifestyles. Whether balance issues are caused by physical conditions or sedentary lifestyles or a fear of falling, physical therapy exercises can help increase balance, coordination, strength and stability.

BenefitsPhysical therapy can help with balance and stability. The general decline of muscle strength, neuromuscular disorders, or middle ear pathology may severely limit your independence and ability to perform daily living activities, which can be addressed with physical therapy.

Balance Retraining TherapyIf you've been diagnosed with any type of middle ear damage or infection, neuromuscular problems, or general decline in strength or health your balance and stability may be compromised. Balance retraining therapy is effective in helping you maintain your balance as well as increase your strength, range of motion and ability to perform daily living skills. This type of training can be done at an outpatient physical therapy clinic. Some exercises performed in balance retraining therapy include hand-eye coordination exercises and range of motion exercises that help your body adapt to changing position, as well as strengthening joints and flexibility and balance exercises with the help of your physical therapist.

WalkingWalking is a common physical therapy exercise used by physical therapists to help rehabilitate patients who've experienced balance or gait problems. Heel to toe walking, side stepping and forward and backward walking with focus on stride length and stability are examples of ways to address balance functionally.

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