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Vestibular therapy offers relief from vertigo

Last Modified: 9/11/2019

Anyone who has suffered from vertigo can tell you how debilitating the condition can be to a person’s quality of life. From mildly blurred vision to severe dizziness and vomiting, symptoms of vertigo may come on suddenly or grow increasingly worse over time. Patients usually undergo X-rays or MRIs to rule out certain conditions, but many times doctors aren’t able to determine the root cause. The good news is that patients can often find relief with specialized physical therapy that focuses on restoring the highly complex relationship between the eyes, the fluid in the ears, and the resulting signals to the brain.

Parkview Whitley Hospital physical therapist, Lauren Fink, has a specialized certification in vestibular therapy, which is an exercise-based program designed to reduce vertigo and dizziness that can result in imbalance and falls. She explains that during the initial evaluation, vestibular therapists put patients through a series of tests to try to trigger the symptoms in order to determine a cause.

One of the most common causes of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) occurs when a tiny piece of calcified debris breaks off inside the ear and causes an imbalance in the ear fluid. Luckily, therapists are able to perform a simple series of movements of the head which can quickly resolve the symptoms over 90 percent of the time. Other times, if the root cause cannot be determined, patients can still benefit from exercises that teach the brain to compensate for vestibular damage. These exercises may include gaze stabilization therapy and balance training exercises.

Fink said she often sees patients who don’t even realize how much they have been compensating for their vertigo until they finally find relief.

“We have patients who have suffered from vertigo for so long that they instinctively avoid sudden movements of their head, they avoid elevators, they avoid reading; the list goes on and on,” she said. “When they finally find relief, they are so thankful to get back to a life without restrictions.”

Parkview offers specialized vestibular therapy at several of its outpatient therapy locations, including Outpatient Therapy at Parkview Hospital Randallia. To determine if vestibular therapy is right for you, please talk to your primary care provider about your symptoms.




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