Our sense of balance is like a 3 legged table with the eyes (vision), ears (vestibular system) and legs (sensation in our feet, muscles and joints in legs) holding us up. A deficiency in any one of these areas can cause a balance problem and lead to falls.
The balance system needs to be strengthened to stay strong. A skilled vestibular therapist knows how to critically evaluate the balance system to find areas of deficiencies and set up a specific treatment plan to address these deficits.
Balance can improve no matter how old you may be, but it takes work. Falls are not a normal part of aging, but they are a leading cause of death among seniors and this is why regular balance screenings are critical.
Vestibular rehabilitation is an effective treatment for vertigo/dizziness, motion sensitivity, and balance disorders. Studies have shown vestibular rehabilitation to be 90% effective in many patients. It is a conservative, non-invasive, drug free option for patients.
A vestibular therapist will evaluate patients with dizziness and imbalance to assess their vision and visual motor skills, balance, gait, motion sensitivity, strength, sensation, flexibility and coordination. A fall risk assessment is performed on every patient and exercises are administered to reduce falls risk. A hallpike test and canalith repositioning techniques will be performed on patients who are suspected to have benign positional vertigo.
A custom home exercise program will be given on the first visit and upgraded frequently. Therapy sessions are typically two to three times per week. Patients diagnosed with benign positional vertigo usually improve in one to three sessions, in 95% of cases. Treatment for other diagnoses may take from four to eight weeks. In some cases patients may experience an increase in their dizziness and imbalance temporarily. It is not uncommon to see an exacerbation of symptoms before improvement. Patients who are compliant and persistent with their vestibular rehabilitation program see results of decreased dizziness, improved balance and overall improved quality of life.