Dizziness or loss of balance is the second most common complaint heard in doctors’ offices. The National Institute of Health statistics indicate that dizziness will occur in 70% of the nation’s population at some time in their lives. Although very common, acute or chronic problems with equilibrium may indicate serious health risks, or limit a person’s everyday living. Equilibrium disorders fall into two categories.
- The first is dizziness, vertigo or motion intolerance that may occur in acute or sharp attacks lasting only seconds or sometimes for several hours. This condition may be caused or worsened by rapid head movements, turning too quickly, walking or riding.
- The second is a persistent sense of imbalance, unsteadiness or what some people refer to as a loss of surefootedness.
Vertigo, dizziness or imbalance will affect 90 million Americans sometime during their lifetime.”
The primary organ of equilibrium in the human body is located in the inner ear which serves as both the sensory organ for spatial orientation and head movement as well as hearing. If for any reason there is an abnormal increase or decrease in the signal being sent to the brain, from any of the balance canals, the brain will perceive this as an exaggeration or hallucination of motion. The result is what we commonly term dizziness or vertigo. Illness, infections, disease, head trauma, and the natural aging process may cause changes in the equilibrium portion of the inner ear.
For others, motion sickness may be traced to their early childhood. Motion intolerance may be experienced as either a sense of exaggerated motion or an inability to watch moving objects while stationary. Although symptoms may only last for several days it is not uncommon, if left improperly diagnosed or treated, for them to linger for years. The good news is that 90% of all causes of dizziness can be found through a thorough evaluation. Eighty-five percent are caused by inner ear disturbance and can be treated medically, surgically, or with Vestibular Rehabilitation.
The good news is that there is hope for many who once thought there might be no relief.
- Designed for the patient whose symptoms may be severe and who requires supervision during exercise. Therapy sessions include the use of vestibular therapy equipment which most people enjoy. For older patients, there is an emphasis on fall prevention. Typically the patient participates in two or three 60 minute sessions per week, with an average of eight to twelve sessions. As the patient progresses, home exercises are added to accelerate the results.
- For individuals who have a loss of balance, unsteadiness or loss of surefootedness. Most of these patients do not report dizziness or motion intolerance. We emphasize practical solutions to the common problems of difficulty getting around in the dark, walking on uneven surfaces and moving unencumbered on ramps or stairs. Fall prevention, movement coordination, and improved participation in everyday activities are all high priorities of the program.
- Home based therapy which the patient does on his own. Each program is individually and especially designed for the patient based on test results and the situations which bring on symptoms. This approach is most commonly used with patients that do not require supervision during exercise. Best results occur when the patient spends 20-30 minutes per session two to three times a day. Most patients report a significant reduction in their symptoms within a two to four week time span.
DON’T GIVE UP
The majority of patients we see have tried to find help for their balance disorder, but were often told “…they’d have to learn to live with it.” It is important to remember that just as each patient’s problem is unique to them so is the therapy and the outcome. Through Vestibular Rehabilitation and Balance Retraining, the vast majority of our patients find the relief they’ve been seeking. Don’t give up!”
Dr. Akomolafe PT, DPT, GCS
Dr. Akomolafe is certified by the American Institute of Balance and is one of few certified physical therapist within El Paso to provide vestibular rehabilitation. With over 20 years’ experience in physical therapy, Dr. Akomolafe ensures that patients seen by him will receive the best quality and up to date therapy available.