Vestibular Disorders and Treatment Methods
In the United States, around ninety million Americans (accounting for around 42% of the population) experience some sensation of loss of equilibrium, faintness, or vertigo at some point in their lifetime. The elderly population’s leading cause of serious injuries or even death is due to falls caused by loss of equilibrium. People aged 65 and above most frequently visit their doctors due to feelings of dizziness.
Majority of the cases of loss of balance are due to peripheral vestibular disorders within the inner ear which accounts for 75% of such cases. Several conditions account for problems in the inner ear that result in difficulty maintaining balance, such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, Labyrinthistis, Ménière’s disease, Acoustic Neuroma, Perilymphatic Fistula, and Vestibular Neurithitis,
The conditions listed above are generally treated using various methods, such as medication, surgery, or physical therapy to maintain and enhance the vestibular system. This type of physical therapy is known as Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) and comprises of several exercises that are customized towards addressing each individual patient’s specific symptoms. Overall VRT utilizes exercises that stimulate the eyes and head muscles as well as training methods to improve gait and stability.
VRT has been known to increase the sense of equilibrium and reduce dizziness. This helps the patient gain a stable sense of coordination when they walk, thereby reducing the chances of falling. People with unilateral as well as bilateral vestibular loss have reported improvement in their symptoms after using VRT. However, limited efficacy has been noted in patients with depression, anxiety, migraine, transient ischemic attacks, and low blood pressure. If you are experiencing a sense of equilibrium loss, consult your doctor to see whether VRT can be used as a treatment option for you.