Our skilled rehabilitation team treats a wide variety of vestibular and balance disorders. Conditions effectively treated can include: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo-inner ear disorders, neurological disorders, occulomotor weakness, motion sensitivity, sport concussions, balance deficits, muscle weakness, migraines, vestibular neuritis, and Meniere’s disease. The rehabilitation specialist that manage these conditions for patients include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathologist and audiologist.
Vestibular conditions can limit and impair an individual’s ability to function in their daily activities of living to include leisure, sport or work related tasks. Our rehabilitation team help patients achieve functional independence and compensatory techniques. This is achieved through therapeutic exercise, manual techniques, mobility drills, equipment needs and patient education. Our therapist take pride in the patients that are entrusted in their care and understand how vestibular conditions impact patients.
Do you often get dizzy? Dizziness can be caused by a vestibular disorder. These disorders are quite common, affecting people of all ages.
The vestibular system involves the brain and the inner ear to control balance and eye movements. The brain receives information from the eyes, joints, muscles, and the inner ear. If the inner ear is damaged, the brain may receive incorrect information or conflicting signals, which can cause vertigo (the false sensation of moving or spinning) or reduce balance. Many factors may contribute to vestibular disorders including head trauma, whiplash, ear infections, viruses, long-term use of certain antibiotics, flying at high altitudes, and seasickness, but often the cause is unknown.
Even moderate dizziness can reduce one’s quality of life, affecting the ability to work, have a normal social life, or enjoy recreational activities. Some causes of dizziness can be treated by the physical therapists at Baystate Franklin Medical Center using an exercise-based treatment program designed to reduce or eliminate vertigo, improve balance, and increase an individual’s overall functional ability.
One of our highly trained physical therapists explains that each ear has three fluid-filled circular tubes called semicircular canals that tell if the head is moving and in what direction. Sometimes, small crystals that belong in one part of the inner ear break loose and start floating in one of the canals. When the head is still, the crystals sit on the bottom of the canal and the person feels fine. But certain head movements make the crystals float in the canal, causing excess movement of the fluid. This dramatically increases the sensations coming from this canal and causes the feeling of spinning. If the head is held still for a minute or so, the crystals settle to the bottom again and the dizziness subsides.
This condition is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV. Twenty percent or more of people with a diagnosed vestibular disorder have BPPV and it is the most frequent cause of vertigo in the elderly. The job of the physical therapist is to determine if these crystals are the problem, and if so, which canal is involved and on which side of the head.
There are many causes of dizziness, not all of which result from a vestibular deficit. If you or someone you know suffers from vertigo symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to rule out a serious medical problem. If appropriate, you will be referred for physical therapy treatment for your dizziness and balance problems.