July 1, 2023

Have you ever experienced dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance while standing up or walking? Then chances are you might be suffering from a vestibular system disorder. The vestibular system controls our balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.

 

When it malfunctions, it can affect our day-to-day activities and lead to falls and accidents. In this article, we will explore how physiotherapy in Edmonton can help improve the function of the vestibular system.

What is the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system consists of three semicircular canals located in each ear, and a vestibule that contains fluid-filled sacs called the utricle and saccule.

 

The vestibular system works in conjunction with the visual and proprioceptive systems to maintain balance and orientation of the body in space.

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Common Vestibular System Disorders

The dysfunction of the vestibular system can lead to various disorders, such as:

 

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): It is a disorder where calcium crystals within the inner ear displace into one of the semicircular canals leading to vertigo, nausea, and imbalance.
  • Meniere’s disease: It is a condition where excess fluid accumulates in the inner ear causing vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in ears), hearing loss, and fullness sensation in the ear.
  • Vestibular neuritis: It is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve that sends signals from the inner ear to the brain resulting in vertigo, nausea, and dizziness.
  • Labyrinthitis: It is an infection or inflammation of the labyrinth (inner ear) causing vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, and imbalance.
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How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing vestibular system disorders by improving balance, reducing dizziness, restoring normal head movements, and increasing overall activity levels.

 

Here is some vestibular physiotherapy in Edmonton techniques that can help improve the vestibular system function:

Balance Retraining Exercises

Balance retraining exercises aim to improve postural stability and reduce falls. These exercises include weight shifting, standing on one leg, and walking on a narrow beam or a foam mat.

 

They challenge the balance system and increase sensory feedback from the feet, eyes, and joint proprioceptors.

Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers

Canalith repositioning maneuvers like the Epley maneuver or Semont-Toupet maneuver are used to treat BPPV by moving the calcium crystals back to their original position in the inner ear.

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These maneuvers involve specific head and body movements and are performed by a trained physiotherapist.

Gaze Stabilization Exercises

Gaze stabilization exercises improve the ability of the vestibular system to maintain visual focus while moving the head or body.

 

The Turning Point Physical Therapy exercises involve tracking a moving object or walking while focusing on a static object.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a specialized program that aims to improve inner ear function, reduce dizziness and vertigo, and promote balance and coordination.

 

A VRT program includes a combination of balance training, canalith repositioning maneuvers, gaze stabilization exercises, and endurance training.

Fall Prevention Strategies

Fall prevention strategies include teaching patients to use mobility aids, such as canes or walkers, using proper footwear, creating a safe environment at home, and educating people about body mechanics while performing daily activities.

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The Role of a Physiotherapist

A physiotherapist plays a crucial role in managing vestibular system disorders by performing a thorough evaluation, developing an individualized treatment plan, implementing the treatment, and monitoring the progress.

 

A physiotherapist can also educate patients about self-management strategies to prevent future episodes of dizziness or vertigo.

Performing a Thorough Evaluation

A physiotherapist starts by performing an assessment that includes a detailed medical history, physical examination, and specific vestibular tests.

 

They analyze the patient’s symptoms, medical history, medication use, visual acuity, and hearing function. Vestibular tests help to identify the cause of the disorder and determine the degree of impairment.

Developing an Individualized Treatment Plan

Once the physiotherapist diagnoses the vestibular disorder and determines its severity, they will develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to the specific needs of each patient.

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The treatment plan may include a combination of balance retraining exercises, canalith repositioning maneuvers, gaze stabilization exercises, VRT, and other strategies mentioned earlier.

Implementing the Treatment

The physiotherapist teaches patients proper techniques for performing exercises and maneuvers that are safe for their health status. They ensure that patients are comfortable with exercises before progressing to more challenging ones.

 

Furthermore, they monitor the patient’s progress during every session to make any necessary adjustments in treatment.

Monitoring Progress

After implementing treatment, monitoring progress is essential to assess whether or not it is working correctly.

 

The physiotherapist typically schedules follow-up appointments every few weeks to review progress made and makes changes accordingly based on what has been achieved so far.

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Conclusion

Physiotherapy is an effective treatment option for managing vestibular system disorders such as BPPV, Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis, or labyrinthitis.

 

If you are experiencing any symptoms related to vestibular system dysfunction, reach out to a certified physiotherapist at Turning Point Physical Therapy in Edmonton, who can guide you through an individualized treatment plan.

 

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