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Vestibular and Balance Rehabilitation

  • At SSM Health Physical Therapy, our specialized team of physical therapists evaluate individuals with vestibular and balance disorders and provide personalized treatment to help restore balance and functional independence.

    Symptoms

    Because the vestibular system – part of the inner ear – interacts with other parts of the nervous system, the symptoms of vestibular dysfunction are characterized by any of a number of symptoms, including:

    • Dizziness
    • Spinning
    • Fullness in the ears
    • Imbalance when walking
    • History of falls or stumbling
    • Nausea
    • Anxiety
    • Blurred vision or trouble focusing
    • Change in activity level
    • Lightheadness

    Individuals may also experience muscle aches, motion sickness, an inability to concentrate, and sensitivity to noise and bright lights. These symptoms may be mild, lasting a few minutes, or severe, resulting in total disability.

    Causes

    Vestibular disorders can be caused by a wide range of injuries, illnesses and conditions, including:

    • Labyrinthitis
    • Vestibular Neuritis
    • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
    • Meniere's disease
    • Balance Dysfunction
    • Falls or fear of falling
    • Stroke
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Brain injury, including whiplash
    • Ear or other viral infection
    • Vestibular deterioration with aging
    • Unilateral or bilateral vestibular weakness

    BPPV

    Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo and can be characterized by the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that your head is spinning inside. BPPV often is characterized by brief episodes of dizziness, ranging from mild to intense, and is often triggered by changes in the position of the head, turning over in bed, or sitting up quickly. BPPV symptoms are due to displaced crystals of calcium, called otoconia, that have collected within a part of the inner ear. Head movements cause the displaced otoconia to shift, sending false signals to the brain.

    About 20% of all dizziness is due to BPPV. In older people, about 50% of dizziness is due to BPPV. Treatment for BPPV can be successful within just a few visits. Specific body and head movements can be performed to move the crystals out of the canal.

    Our Approach

    SSM Health Physical Therapy's team of specially trained physical therapists provides a conservative, non-invasive and drug-free approach to care. We conduct a comprehensive evaluation and develop an individualized treatment plan. We then introduce the exercises, therapeutic interventions and strategies to best meet the needs – and rehabilitation goals — of each patient.

    Treatment

    Research indicates that 80% to 90% of people with vestibular disorders benefit from specialized therapy program. Our rehabilitation team integrates proven treatment, advanced technologies and supportive care to optimize each patient's recovery. Treatment may include:

    • Balance training activities
    • Gait training
    • Muscle re-training
    • Canalith repositioning
    • Manual techniques for BPPV
    • Epley-Semont Maneuvers
    • Relaxation exercises
    • Vestibular habituation and adaptation exercises
    • Visual training
    • Fall risk prevention

    A personalized home program is also provided to help reinforce the gains made through therapy. The home program, which is based on physical condition and tolerance of certain activities, will be modified as the individual progresses.