Vertigo, Dizziness & Imbalance
Vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance can be caused by a broad range of conditions. It can be a result of something traumatic such as a head injury to something you just wake up with. This is because there are multiple systems that contribute to not just our balance but our feeling of being balanced.
Physical Therapy for Vertigo and Imbalance
The main three systems that contribute to our balance are our vestibular system (inner ear), proprioceptive/somatic sensation (the feeling we get from our feet/legs), and vision.
Over time these senses can be impacted with degenerative changes which make it more difficult for our bodies to interpret to utilize the information it receives.
Effects to our nerves ability to interpret this information can also play a role on our bodies feeling of balance. Because of these multitude of causes physical therapy that evaluates the cause and creates a personalized plan is important.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
In our vestibular system there are two areas of our inner ear that contribute to telling our body where our heads are positioned in space. These are our Otoliths and Semicircular Canals.
With BPPV calcium crystals become dislodged from the otoliths and get stuck in the semicircular canals resulting in room-spinning dizziness particularly with head turns or getting out of bed.
To treat this your therapist will figure out where the crystal is in the canal and guide it back to the otolith. With true BPPV, the patient typically can be treated within 1-3 visits.
This is a condition where the nerves that relay the information received from your inner ear become imbalanced which exaggerates your bodies interpretations of changes in any of the systems discussed above (vestibular, proprioceptive, visual).
This can make it hard to balance in low light situations or on uneven surfaces which then make it much harder, and often scarier, to get out and move around the community like we often desire.
To address this your therapist will make use of your brains neural plasticity (ability to make new connections) to address this imbalance.
General Balance Deficits
Difficulty with balance affects a wide array of people, and it is not limited to any of the conditions address above. It can be a result of changes in any of the balance systems addressed above, aging, head injuries, neurologic disorders (e.g. stroke, MS, PD, etc.), and just general weakness.
If you are having difficulty with balance your therapist will do a thorough evaluation to root out the causes of your problems and create a treatment plan to address it. This will often include balance activities, strengthening exercises, and mobility exercises, all made to address your specific needs.
This way you and your therapist can make the best plan available to optimize your gains.