Vestibular & Balance Physical Therapy
Complex Vestibular & Balance Rehabilitation Therapy
These conditions may include dizziness with specific movements of the head or body or problems with balance or walking. Problems with dizziness, balance or walking can have many causes and contributing factors. Some common causes of dizziness include dysfunctions of the inner ear that could be caused by infections (viral, upper respiratory, sinus), trauma to the head or medication interactions. Dizziness may also be related to problems with the central nervous system.
A common cause of dizziness is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). In layman’s terms, small crystals called “otoconia” in the anatomy of the inner ear have become displaced within one of the 3 canals. These crystals cause stimulation of the inner ear with specific head movements that cause dizziness. Many people “put up” with this disabling condition by avoiding the movements that make them dizzy. What many people don’t know is that with proper evaluation, treatment for BPPV usually involves a quick and painless maneuver done in the office to re-position the crystals causing the problem.
Balance is a complex interaction between various systems of the body. It is influenced by the vestibular system (your equilibrium or position sense of your head), visual system (what your eyes tell your brain about your environment and your motion), somatosensory system (muscles in the body that give information to the brain about where your body and head are in space) and central nervous system (integrates all sensory input and produces motor control response). As balance is a function of several systems functioning together in the body, problems with dizziness and balance can also occur due to a combination of different physical impairments causing “multifactorial” balance problems. For example, someone with peripheral neuropathy of the feet may not be able to feel what they are standing on or what position their feet are in due to nerve damage. If that person also has problems with their vision and a very painful arthritic knee at the same time, their balance will be impaired significantly. As specially trained physical therapists in both orthopedic injuries and in balance/dizziness disorders, we are well prepared to treat these problems. Based on the evaluation, we can best select your appropriate treatment. Certain balance problems require formal vestibular rehabilitation including specific exercises. Adaptation exercises can help the body adapt to activities that provoke dizziness or imbalance. Substitution exercises are designed to help weakened systems to return to function by challenging remaining ones. Depending on the case, a person may need a combination of these treatments to get the best results.
At the Hearing & Balance Center of Austin and FYZICAL we use evidence-based testing procedures to determine specific problems that need our attention. We track progress through the rehabilitation process and communicate this to your physician. We will make recommendations on using walking aids such as canes and walkers; we will also ensure whether a person should refrain from using a walking aid due to a risk of falling. We will determine when a patient has demonstrated that he or she is able to do without a walking aid as they progress in their treatment.
Vestibular and balance problems can be complex problems that require a comprehensive treatment plan. At the Hearing & Balance Center of Austin and FYZICAL we are trained to deal with these complex problems and we possess the expertise to develop customized and effective treatment plans for individuals with balance and vestibular problems.