Vertigo, balance and dizziness problems affect people of all ages and occupations. Vertigo is a sensation that the room is spinning and makes mobility difficult. Nausea, lightheadedness, ear ringing, fear of falling, double vision, ear pain and motion sickness may accompany dizziness. These symptoms occur when the brain receives conflicting messages from the three primary pathways that influence our sense of balance and equilibrium (vestibular mechanisms- eyes, inner ear, joint/muscle receptors). It may be especially difficult to turn over in bed, or come up to a sitting position. Moving a certain direction or looking at still objects while you are moving can also provoke symptoms. Symptoms can come on suddenly, or be more chronic. Dizziness and balance impairment are concerns for walking safety and risk of falls with elderly patients.
Inner ear disorders cause approximately 85% of all dizziness and vertigo problems. Other causes may be aging, exposure to unusual motion or altered gravitational forces with flying or cruises, multiple sclerosis, neck problems or injuries and decreased endurance after surgery.
The physical therapists at the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology are well trained in Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) and balance retraining. Each patient is thoroughly evaluated to determine the origin of their symptoms and appropriate treatment is provided for their dysfunction. Exercises are prescribed to retrain the brain to adapt and re-organize input from the vestibular mechanisms and to eliminate the conflicting signals that cause dizziness. Balance retraining exercises improve stability, balance and equilibrium. Therapists use exercises, physio-balls, wobble boards and foam to help patients regain a sense of balance, strength and safety.