Dizzyness affects around 15% of people
(John Humphrey Interview on Vestibular Rehabilitation at the bottom of this post)
The impact of having a dizziness and balance problem can be annoying but not severe or can be debilitating, making it difficult to walk, drive, work, and even enjoy life. Often leading to feelings of frustration, loss of confidence, anxiety and depression.
Many cases of dizziness and balance problems can be addressed, using a customised program of vestibular exercises, known as vestibular rehabilitation. Bluff Road/North Road Physio is staffed by physiotherapists with specific vestibular rehabilitation skills. John, Dave and Will draw on the skills of other medical specialists as required, and prefer to act on referral from a consultant or local doctor.
The vestibular system
The vestibular system of the inner ear is made of five sensory organs (see diagram): three semi-circular canals; and two otolith organs. The purpose of the vestibular system is to monitor the position and motion of your head in space. The semi-circular canals are responsible for detecting rotation, for example when you nod or shake your head. The otolith organs are responsible for detecting motion along a line, for example when your car stops suddenly, or when you lean to one side. The inner ear structures send signals into areas of the brain, which subsequently are involved in co-ordinating movements of your eyes and your head, and in maintaining balance.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with disorders of the vestibular system. These include:
• vertigo (an illusion of motion);
• blurred vision;
• impaired balance;
• unsteady walking;
• reduced concentration; and
• increased fatigue.
These types of symptoms may subsequently lead to other problems, such as loss of confidence, frequent falls, work-related issues, headaches, difficulties with driving, depression and feelings of significant anxiety and fear
There are a range of disorders that commonly interfere with the functioning of the vestibular system and which can result in the types of symptoms described previously. These include:
• vestibular neuronitis (a viral infection of the inner ear);
• acoustic neuroma (a benign tumour which grows along the course of the vestibular nerve);
• Menieres Disease (a fluctuating disorder which involves the build-up of fluid in the inner ear);
• Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) (a disorder caused by debris freely floating in the fluid of the inner ear);
• otoxicity (an adverse reaction of inner ear structures to certain medications);
• vestibular migraine (a variant of classic migraine where the main symptom is of dizziness rather than headache);
• stroke (an interference with the blood supply to the inner ear and vestibular areas within the brain); and
• trauma (motor vehicle accidents, significant falls)
These are only a few examples of common disorders involving the vestibular system
What to expect when you come to see us
Vestibular rehabilitation involves a customised program of vestibular exercises that are designed to re-calibrate the balance system. A typical vestibular rehabilitation program may include:
• specific exercises to reduce dizziness
• eye-head coordination exercises
• balance exercises
• fitness training
• education about specific vestibular conditions and how to best manage them