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Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

If you experience feelings of dizziness or the sensation that the room is spinning, you could be a candidate for vestibular therapy at BenchMark Physical Therapy.

The inner ear controls the body’s balance. Many people endure debilitating inner-ear problems. Vertigo and fear of falling disrupt the ability to perform at work and at home.

Fortunately, vestibular therapy can help. Conducted by physical therapists with specialized training, vestibular therapy is an exercise-based program designed to promote central nervous system compensation for inner ear de cits. This program helps patients learn to manage, or even heal, their conditions. BenchMark has over 40 vestibular-trained clinicians in the state.

A Benchmark Therapist works with a patient. The inner ear’s three semicircular canals are filled with a thick fluid called endolymph. At the bottom of each canal are hair cells topped by crystals. As we turn our bodies, the crystals and hair cells shift accordingly, signaling to the brain that we are, perhaps, turning left or right, or looking up or down.

When those crystals become dislodged, they circulate unmoored in the endolymph and send incorrect information to the brain—signaling inaccurately that we are turning, or causing the impression that the body is spinning.

These misimpressions can have serious consequences. Sufferers can be prone to falling. Drivers who look over a shoulder can lose equilibrium. Workers can have accidents on the job.

The most common inner-ear conditions:

• Meniere’s disease: Patients experience vertigo, often with hearing loss, pain, and the ringing in the ears known as tinnitus. It becomes more prevalent with age but can also occur across a life span

• Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): Patients feel a spinning sensation, even if they’re just turning their head. This spinning sensation can simply appear for no reason or be because of a blow to the head that dislodges those all-important crystals. Once BPPV happens, it is likelier to recur.

• Vestibular hypofunction: In a properly functioning vestibular system, both sides operate in synchronization. When right and left ears fall out of sync, vestibular hypofunction results with feelings of spinning and vertigo. Hypofunction can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, aging, reaction to medications, tumor, or brain injury.

Many patients also experience disruptive secondary symptoms, including nausea, blurry vision, and anxiety. Their fear of falling could cause them to become sedentary, exacerbating physical problems through inactivity.

Anyone experiencing dizziness or vertigo should call a doctor because the same symptoms can signal a cerebellar stroke.

Once a brain scan rules out a stroke, the patient will be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist who will test for vestibular system functioning. Vestibular- condition patients should ask their ENT specialist for vestibular rehabilitation referrals.

While certain medications can help the dizziness and nausea of inner-ear problems, vestibular rehabilitation therapies target the causes, offering dramatic progress without drugs.

Certified vestibular therapists are trained in specific exercises that minimize symptoms and restore patients to normal functioning.

Available treatments include:

• Canalith repositioning procedure

• Gaze stabilization

• Habituation

Treatment sooner, rather than later can help minimize damage. The capable, highly trained therapists of BenchMark Physical Therapy are skilled at helping vestibular patients regain control and restore balance to their lives.

BenchMark Rehab Partners is a family of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and hand therapists committed to inspiring and empowering people to reach their full potential. Its providers know that connecting with patients on a personal level helps to build trust. This trust is crucial in allowing patients and therapists to work together to make the best use of advanced certifications and refined techniques. A focus on proven methods and a hands-on approach help the BenchMark team achieve the goals of the patient in a safe and effective manner.

BenchMark Rehab Partners • • 1-866-577-7342

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