You might feel dizzy or off-balance for many reasons, and sometimes it’s just a fleeting feeling — here one minute, gone the next. Other times, these problems can be more persistent and affect everyday life.
If you or someone you love is experiencing issues with unsteadiness or dizziness, specialized rehabilitation services through The Valley Health System may help you improve your balance and reduce your risk of injuries and other problems. Especially for older adults, falls can pose a serious risk. Getting help is important to stay as safe, healthy and independent as possible.
Symptoms and Possible Causes of Balance Disorders
James Horrocks, PT, is a nationally certified vestibular rehabilitation specialist and manager of outpatient therapy services at Spring Valley Hospital and provides therapy for patients with balance disorders. Along with dizziness and lightheadedness, symptoms may include a sensation of floating, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and panic, he says. Also, some people may experience “vertigo,” which can cause you to feel as though you or the room around you is spinning.
Balance issues may be associated with different medical conditions, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussion, anxiety and migraine headaches, as well as conditions of the inner ear including Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Additionally, certain medications may cause problems, including some blood pressure medicines, codeine, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and cardiovascular medications.
How Therapy Can Help
“The focus of therapy is to challenge the balance system affected and enhance other balance systems that remain intact,” Horrocks explains. The first step is to understand why certain symptoms are occurring. This in turn will determine what types of activities may be recommended. “Patients are taken through a series of activities that enhance the systems used by the body to maintain balance and recognize a person’s place in space,” Horrocks says. Examples may include walking exercises, posture training and vision training to help better guide movement.