- Dizziness and balance problems account for up to 10% of all physician visits.
- Dizziness and balance problems affect approximately 50% of the adult population at some time.
- Falls due to balance problems are a major cause of all injuries requiring hospitalization in persons over 65 years of age.
Dizziness is defined as a sensation that something is wrong. It may be a sensation that you or the world is spinning, which is termed vertigo. It may also describe a sensation of light-headedness, a swaying sensation, motion sickness, feeling faint, etc.
Balance relies on the visual, proprioceptive, and vestibular systems to create an even distribution of weight to enable you to remain upright and steady.
The vestibular system is made up of liquid-filled tubes within your inner ear. Nerves attached to calcium crystals monitor the position of the liquid, which in turn tracks the movement of the head. Dizziness may be caused by dysfunctional nerves and/or crystals, or the brain may not be able to proccess information from the inner ear properly.
- Inner ear problems such as BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), an inner ear infection, and Meniere’s (disorder of the inner ear)
- Neurological problems such as a stroke, head injury, multiple schlerosis (MS), or brain tumour
- Visual problems
- Cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmia, anemia, and postural hypotension
- Metabolic problems such as hypoglycaemia and hormone disorders
- Neck problems
- Side effect of medication
What is Vestibular Therapy?
Therapy provided by a Physical Therapist specially trained in treating balance and dizziness disorders. Balance disorders are assessed and treated by prescribing appropriate balance exercises, treating any dizziness, determining if the use of ambulatory aides are appropriate, and/or reviewing other fall prevention strategies. Complaints of dizziness, if arising from the vestibular system (i.e. brain and inner ear), may be treated with particle positioning techniques, specific exercises, dietary guidelines, and education. The specific treatment will depend on the cause.
Who Would Benefit from Vestibular Therapy?
People who are experiencing balance problems and dizziness brought on with movement of one’s head (i.e. looking up, bending forward, rolling in bed) or eyes (i.e. scrolling, TV, reading, being in visually busy environments) would benefit from a Vestibular assessment and therapy.
Students from the School of Physiotherapy created a printable info sheet on dizziness, balance, and Vestibular Therapy in partnership with the Saskatchewan Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the info sheet.