Can Physical Therapy Help Vestibular Disorders?
Early research on the vestibular system started from NASA’s study on returning astronauts in the space program.
Falls have been estimated to be the leading cause of serious injury and death in those 65 years and older. Studies show that as many as half of all cases of dizziness are due to Vestibular disorders. The vestibular system is responsible for helping to maintain proper head position, coordinate head and eye movement, and maintain posture and balance. If injury or disease damages any of these areas, it can result in a Vestibular Disorder.
What are Vestibular Disorders?
The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance, and eye movements. Vestibular disorders can range in severity from lasting just a few seconds to being a chronic disease that can cause total incapacitation. Vestibular problems can occur for many reasons: inner-ear disease, a virus, a traumatic brain injury, poisoning by certain antibiotics, migraines, and aging. An estimated 90 million Americans have experienced some form of Vestibular dysfunction at some point in their lives. People affected by certain symptoms may have trouble reading, functioning in the workplace, going to school, or performing routine daily tasks.
Vestibular Disorder Symptoms
- Vertigo and dizziness—some signs of Vestibular Disorder can be a spinning sensation or the illusion of movement of self when you are not moving. Lightheaded, floating, or rocking sensation or the feeling of being heavily weighted or pulled in one direction can also occur.
- Balance and spatial orientation—if you experience imbalance, stumbling and falling, you may have a Vestibular Disorder. When the brain is receiving poor information from the inner ear about your body’s balance, you must depend on vision to orient the body’s balance and place in space.
- Vision—Vestibular Disorder can create trouble focusing or tracking objects with the eyes. Objects or words on a page appear to bounce, jump or blur. Sensitivity to light, glare, and moving flickering lights. Fluorescent lights or certain types of computer monitors and TVs can cause sensitivity.
- Hearing—Vestibular Disorders can actually cause hearing loss. Another symptom is Tinnitus, or the ringing, buzzing or clicking sounds in the ear. This can lead to sensitivity to sudden or loud sounds.
- Cognitive and psychological—difficulty concentrating and paying attention or easily distracted. Forgetfulness and short-term memory lapses, or confusion, disorientation and difficulty following conversations. On the psychological side, you may experience anxiety, panic, depression, or social isolation.
- Nausea or vomiting
- Motion sickness
- Slurred speech
- Sensitivity to pressure or temperature changes
CONTACT Physical Therapy is successfully returning patients to function with vestibular rehabilitation. CONTACT treats a wide variety of balance and vestibular disorders that can be corrected with Vestibular Rehabilitation. Depending on your evaluation, CONTACT will implement certain exercises to help reduce dizziness, improve balance and educate you on how to maintain these improvements.