There is a good chance you are familiar with the recommendation of physical therapy for the treatment of various orthopedic conditions. For example, maybe you or a family member has been treated for back pain, a shoulder injury, or knee osteoarthritis. But what about physical therapy for dizziness? And how can a physical therapist help with this condition? This is where vestibular rehabilitation therapy comes in.
First of all, what is the vestibular system?
The vestibular system is one of three sensory systems within your body. It is located within your inner ear and includes three semicircular canals and two otolith organs (utricle and saccule). The vestibular system provides information about motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation.
What exactly is vestibular rehabilitation therapy?
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is an exercise based treatment program that incorporates head, eye, and body movements in order to decrease dizziness, improve gaze stability, maximize postural control, and improve balance. The best way to understand vestibular rehabilitation therapy is to break down the treatment interventions into four separate categories. I will give a brief overview of each category and how these treatments can manage various types of dizziness.
Protection is Important!
To your ears, that is. Did you know that a sound as loud as a blow dryer or blender can cause hearing loss and damage to your ears? Fun (or not so fun) fact for your Thursday.
Tips for protecting your hearing:
- Wear hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 dB for a long period of time.
- There are different types of hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs and custom hearing protection devices.
- 85dB is about the sound of your hair dryer, lawn mower, blender or vacuum cleaner!
- Contact your local audiologist for custom hearing protection devices.
- Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through earbuds and headphones. (Visit www.TurnItToTheLeft.com)
- Walking away from the noise.
- And, other than hearing protection, do not put anything in your ear!
Contact your local audiologist for additional expertise on protecting your hearing and preventing noise induced hearing loss!
*Data provided by the American Academy of Audiology
Sabrina Marciante, AuD
If you are living in constant fear of falling, you may actually be increasing your risk for falls. According to an article by Landers et al., psychological factors including a “fear of falling” and certain “fear avoidance behaviors” are better predictors of falling than actual physical measures.
This means that your risk for falling can be predicted by your own self-confidence in your balance. If you are avoiding activities that you once enjoyed due to a fear of falling, you could be contributing to your own risk due to inactivity and sedentary behaviors. A specialized physical therapy program directed towards improving gait and balance can greatly improve your confidence to keep you safe, independent, and active!
Source: (Landers, M. R., Oscar, S., Sasaoka, J., & Vaughn, K. (2015). Balance Confidence and Fear of Falling Avoidance Behavior Are Most Predictive of Falling in Older Adults: Prospective Analysis. Physical Therapy, 96(4), 433-442. doi:10.2522/ptj.20150184)
Alison Foster, DPT
May is Better Hearing Month!
While we can’t make our hearing “better,” we can better protect ourselves from dangerous noise levels we experience daily. We don’t think of our hair dryer or blender as being causes of noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus (that dreaded sound in your ears), but they absolutely can be.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur if you’re exposed to sounds over the level of 85dB HL for an extended period of time. Let’s see how some common sounds stack up:
60 dB—Normal conversations or dishwashers
80 dB—Alarm clocks
90 dB—Hair dryers, blenders, and lawnmowers
100 dB—MP3 players at full volume
110 dB—Concerts, car racing, and sporting events
120 dB—Jet planes at take off
130 dB—Ambulances and fire engine sirens
140 dB—Gun shots, fireworks, and custom car stereos at full volume
You can see how we are exposed to a variety of dangerously loud sounds daily without even thinking about it. Let’s keep those iPhone and MP3 players on low, and keep our hearing health up!
*Data provided by the American Academy of Audiology http://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/consumer-information/fact-sheets
Sabrina Marciante, AuD
Diabetes mellitus affects millions of people in the United States, and its prevalence is continuing to rise. Neuropathy and retinopathy are two well-known complications from diabetes that can greatly impact balance and lead to an increased risk for falls due to damage to the visual and proprioceptive systems. However, recent research has identified an additional complication from diabetes- an impaired vestibular system.
According to an article by D’Silva et al., structural and physiological changes, as well as, clinical evidence of vestibular dysfunction have been identified in individuals with diabetes. According to the authors of this article, a “comprehensive evaluation of the vestibular system may be necessary in people who have diabetes and balance impairment.” They go on to suggest that “interventions that address all 3 sensory input systems (visual, vestibular, and somatosensory) may be essential for reducing the risk of falls.”
Source: D'silva, L. J., Lin, J., Staecker, H., Whitney, S. L., & Kluding, P. M. (2015). Impact of Diabetic Complications on Balance and Falls: Contribution of the Vestibular System. Physical Therapy, 96(3), 400-409. doi:10.2522/ptj.20140604
Alison Foster, DPT
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.